Happenings At Turgwe Hippo Trust

Published : 20 Dec, 2023

I have been remiss at writing an update for you as to what has been happening at the Turgwe Hippo Trust in the last several months.  So in a nutshell I will try to fill you all in.

Thanks to many of you, we have managed to stay afloat this year, which has not been easy.  It has been such a hard year and I believe this has been the case for most charities and not-for-profits.  Thanks to some of you, donations came in in January to keep us afloat after we lost a regular grant that we normally received during that month.  Later in the year we asked for help to build a new pan for the animals, which has been built right near the THT headquarters. It is mainly to keep the wildlife safe by having them closer to home.  This enables us to keep an ear out for poachers and for the animals to be able to drink and enjoying swimming right close by to the house.

We also asked for help to build an aviary for the two rescue pigeons.  It is large and comfortable and allows them to fly within it. I am actually considering moving in with them.  As well, at the same time an extension to the one volunteers’ cottage was built to improve the bathroom facilities.

Our last appeal was for help to purchase a new satellite dish setup; as you know we do not have grid electricity here in the bush. All our communications are dependent on an old satellite system and the generator. The present setup is very slow and makes life very difficult to send adoptions and videos quickly.  Plus the new system is uncapped, so will not cost the Trust extra money when often we run out of internet data.  We asked for help to give the Rangers and Silas bonuses for the Holiday Season and you have been there for not only the animals but the people as well. Hopefully the new dish will be up and running in the New Year.

I hate having to bother supporters with appeals, as I know that you all get bombarded by such like in your in box all the time, but sometimes we cannot keep going here on our own steam.  Without you, things would certainly stop.  So I salute every single person who has helped the Turgwe Hippo Trust this year.  I am hoping with every ounce of me that I will not have to ask for so much help next year, but at this moment our rains are not good at all. If they do not improve it could be a drought and then I will need a lot of help to feed all 22 hippos, as well as any of the other wildlife in the areas the hippos utilize.  I am still hoping that a lot of rain is going to fall between now and the New Year. You have to have hope.

We also went over to the UK where I was to give a hippo presentation at the Royal Geographical Society, Ondaatje Theater.  This was the third time I have spoken there about the hippos and all that we do at the THT.

People who had attended the other two presentations told me that this one was the best yet, which made me very happy. I had been sick with malaria one week before the event and was really worried I would not be able to talk.  What a relief it was to receive praise and speak for nearly two hours to people who really appeared to love what I had to say and felt inspired by it all.  You can purchase a video link of the talk on the website at https://www.savethehippos.info/product/london-event-2023/.

I will return for another presentation and this time it will not take 6 years as hopefully no pandemic will get in the way.  Jean-Roger and I also got to take an 8 day break in Sardinia while over in the UK, which was absolutely wonderful as it was our first holiday in 6 years.

I have saved the best news to the end as there have been a lot of bad things during 2023 and I will be very happy to go into 2024 with a lighter heart.  I though believe in trying to focus on the positive and find hope in every situation.  I am very happy to say that Penguin publishers South Africa, along with Struik Nature have published the sequel to A HIPPO LOVE STORY.  My new book HIPPOS, A MONGOOSE AND ME will be available as an eBook in late January and a hard copy hopefully by February 2024, as well as on the Turgwe Hippo Trust website and Amazon. 

It will be available for all South Africans at Loot@co.za as a preorder now,  rush to this Loot Site

The book launch will actually be on line and you can register to hear me talk about the book on WORLD HIPPO DAY, February 15th, which is very appropriate.  To register to hear the talk, go to this link https://bit.ly/41rmRc3

This book is a series of short stories about some of the wildlife, including of course the hippos, that have made a deep impression on me during the last 3 decades, and some of the adventures that we have had here as well.

Feel free to use the link below to read an extract from the book :


Then the last bit of extremely welcoming news and which makes my heart so happy is we that we now have, thanks to the talk in London, three well known Patrons for the Turgwe Hippo Trust. 

Every one of them is an accomplished actor in the UK and an animal lover.

Dan Richardson:   actor, producer and animal advocate

Peter Egan: actor, animal activist and ethical vegan

Mark Bonnar: actor and a man who cares for hippos, thanks to his sculptor father Stan Bonnar.

Stan Bonnar on left, hippo sculptor and on right the sponsor for the hippo presentation Ian Wilkie, Director at Leviton, Glenrothes Scotland.

So we end 2023 on a very uplifting and happy note and we really do thank every one of you for making most of this possible by being there for these hippos.  With love to you all and huge hippo hugs.

Karen Paolillo, all the Turgwe Hippos and the other wild animals.  Xxx

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  1. karen paolillo

    Hilary your words touch me deeply and I thank you for who you are and for your kindness and your love of dogs. Love and hippo hugs Karen and all the hippos xxx

  2. Hilary Johnson

    A touching, but also uplifting encapsulation of another year with the hippos and all the other animals. With animals, there are always moments of great sorrow, but also of great joy, and for nobody more so than those battling on behalf of the wild creatures threatened, these days, on several fronts. Once again, I am inspired by Karen’s indomitable spirit, and indeed Jean-Roger’s, in the face of the many set-backs over the years, and also in awe of the many triumphs, which I hope outweigh the tough times. May 2024 treat you both kindly. It begins with an exciting event, the publication of Karen’s new book, ‘Hippos, A Mongoose and Me’. Having been lucky enough to have read it in its early days, I can say that it is an absolute must-read, not just for people interested in hippos, but for what it reveals about an extraordinary person.


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