Victims of hippopotamus attacks at Moi village near the River Sabaki in Malindi Sub County, Kilifi County are calling on the government to compensate them after losing lives and property.
At least three people have reportedly been killed by the hippos that invaded farms and left behind a trail of destruction and life-threatening injuries in a span of six years.
The most affected are fishermen and farmers who have had to endure the marauding mammals that have proved difficult to tame.
In retaliation, the residents have been targeting the hippos for meat and many of them have been snared and slaughtered secretly. This happens mostly after an attack occurs.
The residents claim that efforts to get government help have always been futile and in some instances, the blame is laid on them despite their farms being hundreds of meters from the river bank.
Changawa Kajomba miraculously survived a hippo attack in 2016 that left him with serious thigh injuries.
He said that he was washing at the river bank in the company of his two children after tilling his farm when a hippo pounced on him and mangled his thighs.
“I hit its eyes with the elbow making it run away towards the water. I screamed for help and my children came to my rescue before other villagers rushed me to the Malindi Sub County hospital,” he said.
He added that he filed a complaint with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Malindi office but six years down the line they have not fulfilled the promise of compensating him.
“I was on the farm with my children and after the farm work, I went to the river to clean myself when the hippo attacked me. I suffered serious injuries that have left me weak. I reported the matter but I have not received any compensation to date,” he said.
He added that efforts to deter the animals from invading their farms including the digging of trenches around their farms have not helped.
“I am still wondering if I was the one who attacked the hippo then I could be in jail right now. KWS should pay me,” he added.
Sidi Mzungu, a mother of eight, lost her husband Kenga Charo in 2017 when a hippo invaded their compound six kilometres from the river.
“We heard our cattle making noise at 2:00 am and when we inquired we found a hippo that was attacking the cattle but immediately it saw us, it charged towards my husband fortunately killing him,” she said.
She reported the matter to KWS and they promised to compensate her but she is still waiting for the promise to materialize.
“The hippos have wiped my entire maize farm this month and KWS has not even compensated me for the loss of my husband. They keep saying that the papers are being processed in Nairobi. Do they want my kids to be thieves?” she added.
“The hippos have increased in number and we are helpless, we don’t know how to do away with them,”
Her firstborn son Emmanuel Kenneth urged KWS to erect an electric fence to help block the hippos from accessing their farms.
Safari Kadenge Karisa, the village head man at Moi village, said that since 2016 he has recorded three deaths and more than 10 injuries of people attacked by hippos.
“KWS tells us that one hundred meters from the river is their territory but the hippos are covering six kilometres to our homes and they don’t help us. We have reported all the incidences to KWS but none has been processed six years down the line,” he said.
He added that residents were now fed up and they are contemplating arming themselves for protection against the hippos.