A large number of hippopotamuses have been killed in the western part of Niger after villagers blamed them for destroying crops and livestock.

In Ayorou, which attracts a great deal of tourists, at least 27 hippos have been destroyed, authorities said.

The "massacre ...started in March and then assumed dramatic proportions" mainly in island settlements on the Niger river, Jando Rhichi Algaher, told the Agence France-Presse.


"The locals have killed a large number of hippopotamuses, although this species is protected," Environment Minister Almoustapha Garba said on state radio.

Garba added that people were encouraged not to commit crimes and those who were affected would be compensated for their losses.

Toursits have been attracted by the hippos, as well as the number of bird species in Ayorou, which is around 125 miles from the capital of Niger, Niamey.

Despite this particular species of hippopotamus being protected, they are dangerous creatures. Approximately 3,000 people are killed each year by hippos, according to data compiled by Mother Nature Network.

The Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.