A 2-year-old boy in Uganda survived a hippo attack after almost being swallowed whole.
The boy, identified by authorities as Iga Paul, was playing near his home when a hippo grabbed him and "swallowed half of his body" before spitting him out, a spokesperson for the Uganda Police Force said in a statement.
Fortunately, a witness was able to throw stones at the animal to get it to relinquish the hold it had on the child.
"It took the bravery of one Chrispas Bagonza, who was nearby, to save the victim after he stoned the hippo and scared it, causing it to release the victim from its mouth," police said.
Afterwards, the boy was rushed to a nearby clinic for injuries on the hand and was later transferred to Bwera Hospital for further treatment. Police say he's made a full recovery and was discharged after receiving a vaccine for rabies.
"This is the first such kind of incident where a hippo strayed out of Lake Edward and attacked a young child," the police spokesperson said. According to the authorities, the boy lives about 800 meters away from the lake, where the Wildlife Conservation Society estimates about 6,000 hippopotami still roam.
Hippos are the third largest living mammal, after elephants and white rhinos, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Weighing between 1.4 to 5 tons, they have powerful jaws that are capable of opening up to 150 degrees — and enormous incisors.
Typically, they leave their water pool at night to graze for four to five hours and can cover up to five miles of territory in one night, eating about 88 pounds of food during this time, per the foundation.
Although police say the hippo in this most recent attack was scared back into the lake, residents near animal sanctuaries and habitats should know those wild animals are very dangerous.
"Instinctually, wild animals see humans as a threat and any interaction can cause them to act strangely or aggressively," the police spokesperson said.
Residents of the area should remain vigilant and alert park rangers about animals that have strayed into their neighbourhoods, they added.