A bystander who witnessed the ambush began throwing stones at the hippopotamus in an attempt to stop the attack. Eventually, the hippopotamus was scared off by the human attacker, who spat the boy out before retreating to the lake.
“It took courage from one Chrispas Bagonza, who was nearby, to save the victim after he stoned and frightened the hippo, causing it to release the victim from its mouth,” the Ugandan police wrote in a statement.
“This is the first incident in which a hippo has strayed from Lake Edward and attacked a young child,” the police statement said.
Iga was taken to a nearby clinic for his injuries and later transferred to Bwera Hospital in western Uganda for further treatment. He received the rabies vaccine and has since been transferred to the care of his parents, authorities said.
“Although the hippo was scared back in the lake, all residents near animal sanctuaries and habitats should know that wild animals are very dangerous,” the police statement read. “Wild animals instinctively view humans as a threat and any interaction can cause them to behave strangely or aggressively.”
Hippos are the world’s third-largest land animal, living primarily in rivers, lakes and swamps in eastern, central and southern sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Virunga National Park, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In Africa, hippos kill an estimated 500 people each year, according to National Geographic, and are considered one of the world’s deadliest mammals. They are twice as deadly as lions. The chance of a hippo attack being fatal is between 29 percent and 87 percent, according to research published in 2020 by the journal Oxford Medical Case Reports.
In 2017, a Detroit woman was killed while on an African safari with her family. Carol Sue Kirken, 75, was attacked by a hippo while vacationing in Tanzania, according to the Detroit News. She soon died in the arms of her son Robert, according to her obituary.
Hippo attack survivor Kristen Yaldor told ABC News in 2019 that a hippo pulled her underwater while she was canoeing in the Zambezi River with her husband to celebrate her 37th birthday.
The hippopotamus gripped Yaldor’s leg tightly and swung her around in the water for about 45 seconds. Yaldor said she pulled the hippo’s mouth and it released her. Her femur was broken and she underwent seven surgeries to repair her right leg when she returned to the United States.
“[I] didn’t have a chance to scream, it just happened so fast,’ Yaldor said.