Residents of Sabaki Ward in Kilifi County have urged the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to urgently move in the area and drive away a large herd of hippopotamuses terrorising them.
The residents said they were living in fear following the invasion by the marauding aquatic mammals, which they said were destroying crops and endangering the lives of residents and forcing many children to skip school.
“The animals have left their sanctuaries within the banks of River Sabaki and are roaming about in farms and homes even during the day, thus disrupting our lives and forcing our children to skip school,” said Safari Kadenge, a resident.
Mr Kadenge said a number of residents had already been injured by the ferocious wild hogs while thousands of acres under maize and other crops had also been destroyed.
“We are therefore appealing to the Kenya Wildlife Service to come and control the animals. We have machetes, hammers and clubs. If KWS is not able to control the animals, they should allow use to use our weapons,” an emotional Kadenge said.
He complained that people who had been killed or injured by the fierce animals in the area had not been compensated even after filling forms for compensation. He also called on the government to change the law to allow for compensation for crop and livestock destruction.
His sentiments were echoed by Anthony Nzai and Charo Angore, who added that the animals had imposed an indefinite curfew in the area as people are forced to remain indoors day and night to escape attack.
“We are even forced to answer calls of nature inside our houses because it had become dangerous for us to move out, especially at night,” Mr Nzai said.
The invasion by the hippos coupled with crop failure arising from inadequate rains this season threaten an unprecedented famine in the area.
Mombasa advocate George Kithi criticized KWS officers for not heeding the people’s distress calls despite the fact that the matter had been reported to them.
Contacted for comment, KWS Senior Warden in charge of Malindi Sub County Jane Gitau, said his officers were doing everything possible to control the movement of the animals.
On the issue of compensation, the official urged victims of wildlife attacks to be patient as the matter was being handled in accordance with existing laws.
By Emmanuel Masha