A 63-year-old woman has died after being attacked by a hippo in Malamulele Vhembe District, Limpopo.
In a statement, Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC Thabo Mokone said the attack took place on Wednesday night after residents spotted the hippo passing by with its offspring.
"Due to the scarcity of such incidents, the residents tailed the animal fuelled by curiosity and ignorance of the danger attached to such action," Mokone said.
While the exact circumstances of the incident is unclear, he added the animal was probably trying to protect its young.
"Assuming the hippo felt provoked, threatened and overwhelmed by the animalistic need to protect its young, it attacked."
While residents were able to "swiftly escape", Mokone said, the woman was not so lucky.
A team of field rangers have been dispatched to track down the hippos and escort them to a wildlife friendly environment.
"Limpopo continues to take great pride of its environment and all the animals dwelling within it.
"As a province bordering three countries and occupying the greatest territory for wildlife, we will time and again notice such wildlife intrusion in residential areas," Mokone said.
He urged residents to exercise caution if they spotted wild animals.
"Although such incidences are unfamiliar to residents, the department urges them to be vigilant and refrain from approaching wild animals.
"The authorities should be informed whenever a wild animal is spotted," Mokone said.