Our Mission

What we Do

The Turgwe Hippo Trust is about saving the lives of families of hippos whose very existence would have ended way back in 1992, and helping those hippos to breed, have calves and live the lives they were born to lead as wild African animals.

How do human beings help such magnificent, wild and supposedly dangerous animals?


To help the hippos she had to be structured, find ways to improve their lives. Often this entailed undertaking mundane work, such as digging in rivers to improve blocked up channels. To getting out there in the bush amongst the other wild inhabitants and finding the weak links that were causing hippos to decline in numbers and to make a plan. In Zimbabwe making a plan is part of the local language, and believe me it works if the passion and the purpose are there. Her husband a Geologist assists Karen whenever possible. He designed a pump that could be used to remove excess sand from the river and create pools for the hippos to live in.

Karen Paolillo researched their needs, studying them intensely for up to six hours each day. She discovered as well the failings of human encroachment on their environment, also of hunting by “sportsmen” and of poaching for money, not to feed a family. She counteracted every move by using the human tool that we all have within us, and that is our sensitivity to a situation.