Biting baboons of Nakuru

In Nakuru county, approximately 160 km from Kenya capital city Nairobi, along the Nairobi Eldoret -highway, is Lake view estate, which neighbors Lake Nakuru national park. Here human beings mingle with wild animals especially the baboons, which make them exposed to attacks.

Late November last year, a ten year old boy Victory Karanja, a class four pupil at Kimathi primary school , was attacked by a baboon while coming from the shop to buy airtime at the nearby shop, without help, the boy struggled with the baboon for some time to breakaway, but the baboon was determined to wrestle him down.

On seeing that the boy wouldn’t go down easily, it bit him on the leg, a bite so deep that the wound was gapping, his Mother Margaret Wangui, who does menial jobs, cleaning clothes around the neighboring estates, was called by her daughter crying at around 10 am informing her of the attack.

Baboons walking on the roof tops of peoples houses in Lake View estate, in Nakuru Kenya. Photo by Daniel Kipchumba

Victory says the baboon was targeting to bite his knee, but pushed it to the wall, and ran away, not knowing that it had bit him.’’ The neighbours are the ones who realized that I was bitten after seeing blood flow on my leg, so they gave me some pain killers’’, Victory narrates.

The neighbours rushed the boy to Langalanga sub-county hospital for treatment, where the wound was cleaned, dressed and anti-rabies was administered. The mother followed later to the hospital, where she fainted upon seeing the wound on her son’s leg.

She reported the case to Bondeni police station, where the case was recorded in the occurrence book, then she was directed to the chief warden.

‘I was told the chief warden is not in, they said that baboon attacks are not compensated, only attacks from the big five are compensated, I asked them what if the baboon killed him, they told me that would be my problem’. Margaret says.

She says that while in the hospital, she heard that there have been several cases of baboon attacks before, and after her son’s attack, there have been approximately six more cases of the same nature.

Though her pursuit to get compensation from the KWS office Nakuru was fruitless, she thanks God that it was only a bite though serious but the son didn’t die.

Margaret says, the boy is now traumatized by the incident, he can’t stay alone in the house and if it happens, he keeps the door shut, anyone who knocks is required to identify themselves, at night he can only sleep with lights on, he say he fears sleeping in darkness, because the baboon might come back. He dreams about baboons at night, he has to be taken to the toilet even during the day, because he is absolutely worried and traumatized.

‘Am concerned that my son is traumatized by the attack, but I can’t do anything about it’. Margaret narrates.

A baby baboon enjoying a fruit on a house rooftop. Photo by Daniel Kipchumba.

Her son was injected five anti tetanus, and anti-rabies dose, and every injection cost Ksh750, she thanks the area member of county assembly Hon Eddy Kiragu who helped her settle the medical cost.

Joab Tsuma, personal assistant to the area member of county assembly Mr Eddy Kiragu, says although snakes and baboon bites are rampant in the area, baboon bites are the major. He cites hunger during dry season as the main cause, driving them from the park to the residential areas to look for food.

‘Only three cases have been reported to us, one of the victim was able to foot the medical bill, but the other two couldn’t, the office caters for treatment of anti-rabies vaccines, which costs the office Ksh 10,500 per person’. Says Joab Tsuma.

He says they’ve had meetings with stake holders including, neighboring members of the county assemblies, county commissioners and the chiefs of the affected areas, like Baruti, Flamingo, mzee wa nyama and Kivumbini.

‘The main hindrance is that KWS compensates the attacks inflicted by the big five animals, but we are still arranging to have more meetings to find a way forward.’ Joab says.

Despite of the electric fence around the park, the baboons have a way of sneaking out through to residential area.

Some of the Landlords in the area have hired youth who use handheld catapults to chase away the baboons. The residents in the area have moved to safer estates.

Drought and wildlife habitat invasion have been cited as the major cause of human wildlife conflicts around the country.

Human-wildlife conflicts are a major issue in the Country in form of deaths, injuries and destruction of people’s property notably; livestock, crops and infrastructures. There is need for government agencies, and the conservationists to work closely with local communities and other stakeholders, in the search for appropriate and sustainable strategies, for resolving human-wildlife conflicts not only in Nakuru County but in the whole country.

Concerted efforts be made by the government and the conservationists to involve all stakeholders in decision making and management of wildlife.

 

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