The End of 2016 and a Flooding Turgwe River, bring on the Rains!

Published : 31 Dec, 2016

It is official: December 30th and the Turgwe River is in full flood and I can stop feeding all the hippos. We have now had rain to get the grass growing and it has been sufficient of late to allow me to cut the food down and I will be able to stop feeding altogether.











December 30th BonBon moves from the deeper channel which is too fast flowing to a shallow part of the river


Here Scarface baboon walks in the old hay at Kuchek’s family feeding station, while the river is in full flood.


With the river in flood the hippos will move from their normal pools and not come along to the feeding stations. I will be able to stop feeding now after a year of helping these hippos and other wild animals. 2016 has been a year of huge challenge, a great deal of hard physical work but with the best results coming from all the hippos supporters. You have enabled the Turgwe Hippo Trust to save the lives of 19 hippos and over 200 other wild animals. The donations, adoptions, sales of merchandise as well as tremendous help and support from Laura Simpson of the Harmony Fund USA, thanks also to Adventure Aquarium USA, Big Yellow UK, Meryl Harrison and the Aware Trust UK, along with so many individuals, have made it possible to supply hay, game nuts, survival meal, transport, cabbages, and keep all these animals alive during the second harshest drought since 1992. The Trust has fed the following species: Hippos, elephants, buffalo, eland, wildebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck, grysbok, kudu, zebra, bush pig, warthog, baboons, Vervet monkeys, civet, scrub hare, porcupine. Predators like lion and hyena benefited from eating the odd animal we were helping, but again that is a natural survival code.



Thanks to: Sandra Gaines, USA, her beautiful hippo jewellery pieces were donated to the Trust and raised funds when included in a raffle. Suzie Marsh sculpture, UK, brought in much needed assistance. Jill Robinson and Wendy Leadbeater of Animals Asia helped with personal donations.

Then all the volunteers and guests who came along this year. Well, they all were generous with their physical help and donations. This kept the food coming in and the animals fed.

To all the children who have helped by raising funds at their schools or giving up birthday gifts to help these hippos.

I hope you know that you are the future of our planet and we love each and every one of you.









































My book A HIPPO LOVE STORY published by Penguin continues to bring in funds for the Turgwe Hippo Trust as did articles written for Africa Geographic SA and the Leander Club UK.
I thank everyone who has helped these amazing animals this year and hope that you all realise that you did actively save lives.  Without you we could not have fed the animals, without you many would have died.  Without you the Turgwe Hippo Trust could not function.  Without you, at times I would not have had the strength to keep going, but thanks to your emails and moral support, I could. I want you all to go into 2017 knowing that you are kind, good people and that you all deserve to have a wonderful year.

Our grateful thanks to the games scouts and Silas my assistant, who have worked extra hours and fed alongside me throughout this entire year.

Huge thanks to Steve Gordon Canada (videos), Mark Powell UK (youTube), Sarah Chilvers UK (calendars, books and photo sets), Patrick J France (Web master & design), Suzie Marsh UK (books), Tabitha Logan USA (books), Cinda Lautenschlager USA (newsletters), Maya & Anne Donelan (Friends of Turgwe Hippo Trust), Anne Wilkinson (Friends of Turgwe Hippo Trust), Alex & Pam van Leenhoff (accommodating volunteers), Oskar & Linda Rothen (accommodating volunteers).

As well as a very special thank you to Jean-Roger for helping me wherever he could and at times having to do things that were definitely not what he expected when he married me.  Yet nevertheless he has managed to succeed, and be there for me and the hippos throughout 2016.

With my love and hippo hugs to every single one of you, and I salute you all.

Xxx   Karen Paolillo, Turgwe Hippo Trust, Hippo Haven, Zimbabwe, 2016.

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  1. Ruthie Ezell

    Happy Hippo New Year!! I’m so happy to hear the rains have come. May 2017 be awesome for all the hippo and other animals. I will continue to follow your great work from here in Niceville, Florida. Cheers!!

  2. Linda Pashley Murray

    Happy New Year Karen and Jean!! Onto a lush and green and happy hippo 2017.I hope now you can sit back on river’s edge and watch them frolic and say “Well done!”
    With much admiration, I salute your dediction and perseverance.

  3. Nancy Watkins

    So happy the rains have come and the animals were saved, thanks to all your hard work and the efforts of many!! We did it!! The pictures are incredible as usual. Keep up the great work, but maybe it will be a bit easier now with the rains. Happy New Year to all.

  4. Betsy Fox

    Hello Karen and all with you, I am so happy to hear there is rain and lots of water and green vegetation to feed everyone…I haven’t kept up with the Trust much this year, but I am so glad that I got to visit you there in 2013 (it seems impossible it was that long ago!) and see what you do. The drought is continuing here in Namibia, but I hope soon it ends as it has for you there in Zim. May 2017 be a blessed year for you, the hippos and all your working family there with you. Sending you and all lots of love and energetic support (funds lacking to do more at the moment!).

    • karen paolillo

      Hi Betsy I hope the rain has arrived with you. Here we still have not had a lot in one go, most being 22mm but had 12mm yesterday which we needed as already the growing grass was turning blue. So hopefully more rain is on the way. I fed the last family of hippos Kuchek’s up until 5th January so now all are back to their natural food. As are all the animals. Love to you Karen and the hippos

  5. Anna Tolan

    Congratulations Karen and all your team! We are so pleased to hear the rains have come at last and that the hippos and all the other animals can feed naturally now. Such an enormous amount of work and dedication in feeding them all for so long. We admire you so much! Happy New Year to you all at Turgwe
    Anna and Steve, and of course Big Doug

    • karen paolillo

      Dear Anna and Steve and Mr Doug Hippo thank you for your very kind words. I hope your rains are equally good. I also hope that Doug is safe from those hunters that wish to cull the hippos in Zambia. May 2017 be the best year for you yet. Love to you all Karen and the hippos x

  6. Lyndon Surajbally

    I’m so very happy for you and the hippos. I’m very glad to be able to contribute when I can and I hope to be able to do so more often in the future. Happy New Year 2017 to you and everyone at the trust!

    • karen paolillo

      Lyndon same to you a very Happy New Year. Every donation in 2016 saved lives. This year donatiions will be used towards anti poaching to keep all the animals here safe. We have four game scouts that every day search the bush for snares. On January 3rd they found 8 double strand telephone wire snares which could easily have killed an eland, kudu, waterbuck, zebra and so the list goes on. Every snare removed and destroyed is an animal saved. Love Karen and the hippos x

  7. Cinda Lautenschlegar

    I am so relieved the rains have come and released their bountiful life saving sustenance. You are a hero and you inspire many to help. I can’t think of a better way to start the new year!
    I can just visualize the hippos laughing.

    • karen paolillo

      Love your comment and yes they do laugh a lot 🙂 love and hugs Cinda Karen and the hippos x

  8. Alice Stotter Tromm

    Absolutely a great ending of a year of drought. And a good feeling that so many people around the world helped these animals to survive. Thank you Karen and Jean-Roger to save them and to make the world aware what it means as often people donate and that is it. With Turgwe Hippo Trust we can follow where it goes and what happens and how much work it is to save wildlife. It sounds so easy but it is hard work.
    Hope you can relax and keep us updated. A healthy 2017. xx

    • karen paolillo

      Thank you Alice for your kind words and yes of course I will keep everyone updated. I am still today Jan 3rd feeding 8 Hippos, Kuchek’s family. As we have not had the rain that Tembia and Chubby have had. I am hoping in the next couple of days we will get more. The grass is growing here it is just still a bit short for them so to help them I keep going for a couple more days. A very Happy New Year to you. Love Karen and all the hippos x

  9. Steve Gordon

    You and Jean have pulled off nothing short of a miracle. It gives Marg and I great joy to know you have saved so many animals. We are privileged to know you and Jean and to have followed you through this most trying year. May 2017 be green and lush for you and all the animals.

    • karen paolillo

      Steve both you and Marg came here in a good year but I know you understand what this year has been like. I thank you for all your help and assistance with the videos and advice, and being there for us and the hippos. Love Karen and the hippos xxx

  10. Carol Smith

    So happy that 2016 has finished on such a happy note for Karen, Jean-Roger, the hippos and all the wildlife of the Turgwe River. Proud to have played just a small part this year in helping to ensure the survival of your precious wildlife. May Hippo Haven continue to be a flagship for conservation in Zimbabwe and throughout Africa. x

    • karen paolillo

      thank you Carol for your really kind words, they are so appreciated. You saw it how it was and this year hopefully I can return to having more time watching, photographing and videoing the hippos, rather than keeping them alive. We will though continue with game scouts with our daily snare patrols and all the normal daily events at Turgwe Hippo Trust. Happy New Year Carol may this year be the start of great things for you. Love Karen and the hippos xxx


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