Two-year-old survives after hippo nearly swallows him whole

Hippos are herbivores, but have been known to attack people and other mammals. Credit: AP

A two-year-old boy from Uganda survived after a hippo tried to swallow him whole - before spitting him back out.

The hippo strayed around 800 metres from the southern Lake Edward to attack the boy, named Iga Paul.

According to the Ugandan Police Force, Iga had been playing in his hometown of Katwe-Kabaro when he encountered the hippo.

It then grabbed Iga by his head and swallowed half of his body. Iga was only released after a local, Chrispas Bagonza, threw stones at the hippo.

The two-year-old was then taken to hospital for treatment. He was discharged after receiving a rabies vaccine.

Katwe-Kabaro is located within the confines of Queen Elizabeth National Park, home to not only hippos, but animals like lions, elephants and buffaloes.

Following the attack on Iga on December 4, police spokesperson Enanga Fred urged locals to remain vigilant and alert park rangers about animals that have wandered into residential area.

He added that this is the first time a hippo from Lake Edward has hurt a young child.

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"Although the hippo was scared back into the lake, all residents near animal sanctuaries and habitats should know that wild animals are very dangerous," he said.

"Instinctually, wild animals see humans as a threat and any interaction can cause them to act strangely or aggressively," Mr Enanga said.

Hippos are native to Africa. They are herbivores, but have been known to attack people and other mammals.

In 2018, a Chinese tourist was attacked and killed by a hippo while taking pictures on the edge of Lake Naivasha in Kenya’s Rift Valley, just hours after a local fisherman was mauled to death in the same area.