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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Hippo on the run in South Africa
A young hippo sunbathing
The hippo has sought refuge in wetlands near a residential area
A young hippopotamus has escaped from a nature reserve near Cape Town in South Africa.

Fearful of attacks, authorities have warned residents not to confront the hippo, who broke free after thieves destroyed a perimeter fence.

"If aggravated, hippos can be really dangerous," said Clifford Dorse of the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.

The hippo has sought refuge in the Zeekoevlei wetland area of the Cape Flats, near a residential area.


Spotted twice this week, the two-year-old calf was being bullied by a dominant male, Reuters news agency reports.

A large grey hippo can be hard to spot
Clifford Dorse
Conservation officer
An adult male usually dominates a herd, and will scare off any challengers that enter his territory.

A sporting regatta is due to be held in Zeekoevlei - which in Afrikaans means hippo marsh - this coming weekend, Mr Dorse said.

"I would advise that people don't go into the water until it's located," he said.

He also warned motorists to be vigilant as grey hippos are hard to see.

The perimeter fence of the Rondevlei Nature Reserve, a 15-minute drive from Cape Town city centre, was broken by thieves stealing machinery from the local sewage works, Sapa news agency reports.

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