Five herders from Enkorika, Kajiado Central sustained serious injuries on Tuesday evening after they were attacked by a stray leopard.
According to one of the victims James Sisika, 25, he was grazing his sheep and goats just before the sun went down, when the predator pounced on one of his goats.
“It was before 5pm I was looking after my goats and sheep then all of a sudden the leopard pounced on my goat and I wasn’t ready again to lose another head, I have already lost 5 goats due to attacks from the same leopard so I tried to scare it away that is when it pounced on my head as well and bit my hands as we rolled over the ground,” Sisika told KNA.
Sisika said his cries for help attracted four herders who were grazing their livestock nearby and they all joined in to fight off the leopard together.
Nicholas Pitet who sustained bruises on his hands and on the rib said the villagers were now living in fear of attacks from the leopard and cannot move around freely.
“Nowadays we can’t move around freely during the day or at night especially at this time when our children are at home for holidays they can’t go to graze the animals due to fear of being attacked by the carnivore .We have to accompany our wives to fetch water at the river because that’s where the leopard awaits its prey,” Pitet said.
Sisika’s father, Mzee Sisika Andowa, said the attack on his two sons and his neighbour’s sons was not the first in the area.
“These are common occurrences here, in the last month; we have lost some 50 goats and sheep here. We have informed authorities but our stories appear to fall on deaf ears,” claimed Andowa.
Andowa said the leopard was eventually overwhelmed by villagers who killed it. He said Kenya Wildlife Service office in Kajiado was alerted about the incident but none of their officers bothered to visit the scene of the attack.
Among the five, two have already been discharged while the three are still recuperating at the Kajiado County referral hospital.
County Senior warden Muteru Njauni confirmed the incident and the killing of the leopard and has assured the victims that once they recover fully, KWS will assess all the costs that they will have incurred and make a report to the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation committee to verify the claims for the victims to be compensated.
Njauni said it is wrong to fight with the wild animals when they grab livestock adding that the locals have been told many times not to fight with the beasts.
“We have told them that it is useless fighting with the beasts because after all the eaten animals will still be paid for by KWS. Why would one risk his life in the name of fighting a beast while knowing that the government will still make compensation?” said Njauni.
Cases of human-animal conflict have always been a common occurrence in Kajiado County as the county is surrounded by three national parks; Nairobi, Amboseli and Tsavo.
Muteru said the conflicts were expected to increase due to the prolonged drought as animals change their migration patterns in search of pasture and water.
He said his team was vigilant and warned locals living near parks to exercise caution while undertaking their normal activities very early in the mornings and late at night.
The County warden noted that fencing off the parks would be a lasting solution to the perennial human-wildlife conflict in Kajiado.
By Rop Janet/Albert Lemomo