Bullet Fired at Kudu Hits Man

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By Anna Ingwafa WINDHOEK A resident of Goreangab, on the outskirts of Katutura last Sunday night became a victim in a bizarre incident in which he was accidentally shot when members of the City Police and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism attended to a case of a stray kudu that suffers from kudu pest (rabies). The City Police say the man was struck by a bullet fired by Environment and Tourism officials. However, nature conservation officials say the slug was in actual fact fired by members of the City Police who attended to the case. Several strange cases in which kudus suspected to be infected with kudu pest disease, which makes them unusually tame and foam at the mouth, have been reported in many parts of the country. The man was shot by officials who attended to the incident as they tried to kill the beast that strayed into the area on Sunday. Vatilifa Shalonga, 48, suffered a bullet wound on the leg. The officials finally managed to aim their fire on the right target and eventually killed the animal. Both members of the City Police and officials from Environment and Tourism were summoned to the scene by Goreangab residents who sighted the wild animal. George Masilo, an Environment and Tourism official said at the time his team arrived at the scene, blood was oozing through the nose of the animal that was still alive. “Because it was dark we cannot say it was shot or maybe injured by the community members. My colleague Leonard Haindongo shot the Kudu twice in the head at close range and nobody complained of being hit by the bullet at that time. We suspect the City Police shot the person,” Masilo explained. He added that he overheard a City Police member calling for an ambulance over the radio but did not ask them why they were radioing for an ambulance. When they left the scene later, the ambulance cross passed them facing the opposite direction “and it is only this morning when the City Police called me to tell me that my colleague shot an onlooker in the leg, it is ridiculous,” Masilo claimed. Sergeant Kaleb Mathew said his team told him that the wildlife people shot the watcher, not them, since they did not fire any bullet. Shalonga was released from hospital yesterday and is in a stable condition. Currently, kudus in the northern and central areas of the country are said to suffer from a kudu pest disease. According to Masilo, last week the officials from nature conservation shot two kudus around Windhoek, also believed to be suffering from the disease. A rabid domesticated animal becomes wild showing unexplained aggression, whereas wildlife becomes strangely tame by straying into towns, gardens and homes. Rabies symptoms are aggressiveness, lack of fear for human beings, getting close to places, production of lots of saliva, chasing after moving objects. In later stages, they are paralyzed, unable to drink and eventually die. A similar outbreak was recorded in 1977-85 in Namibia and caused severe mortality amongst the kudu population. A private veterinarian, Dr Ulf Tubbesing says that oral vaccines for kudu are not feasible in Namibia as is the case in Europe because of climatic conditions, the vastness of the country and the associated costs, which are exorbitant. Another option could be a capture-and-release programme with the aid of a helicopter where the estimated population could be herded into a boma where they could be vaccinated and marked to avoid duplication.