Brave villager lives to tell of hippo attack
Posted Thursday, June 7 2012 at 22:30
When a pastor came face-to-face with a hippopotamus on his way home on Wednesday night, the experience was so chilling that he thought he would not live to see another day.
But he single-handedly wrestled the animal and miraculously survived
Mr John Gathuru Kimani, a pastor with the Chrisco Church on Thursday painfully narrated his narrow escape during the attack in Kilimambogo, Thika East District.
A short distance from the scene, a fellow villager, Mr Peter Kariuki Kamau, 35, was mauled to death.
He was reportedly walking home at the time. The body lay at the scene until 10am Thursday when police took it to the Thika Hospital mortuary.
Speaking from his Naidu Hospital bed in Thika town, Mr Kimani, 57, said he came across the animal as he was going home near Giciiki village.
“I had just left my place of work at a construction site in Makutano township just after 6.30pm when, on reaching the Kilimambogo Teachers College Road junction, I heard some commotion and ahead of me I saw a hippo with its mouth wide open,” he said.
Mr Kimani, who is also a mason, pushed the animal and it momentarily disappeared before springing back and knocking him on the right side, breaking two of his ribs. It also mauled him on the back, between the shoulders, and the face, inflicting deep wounds.
“I lay still on the ground pretending I was dead and I could hear it hissing above me and attempting to lift me, but I remained motionless,” said the father of seven.
Returned three times
The hippo left and returned three times and after about an hour he lifted his head and started screaming for help, attracting the attention of villagers.
A lecturer at a teachers’ college drove his vehicle to the scene and its lights scared away the animal.
Mr Kimani was taken to the nearby Immaculate Heart of Mary Kilimabogo Hospital where he was given first aid before being transferred to Thika Level 5 Hospital and later to Naidu Hospital where he was admitted in serious condition.
Villagers who talked to journalists accused the government of failing to address the hippo menace.
They claimed that the beasts, which come from the nearby River Athi, had killed six people in the last three years.
A resident, Mr Joseph Muthama, called on the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to erect an electric fence along the river banks and around a dam in the area from where the hippos come. They venture out in the evenings and early mornings to graze.
He said KWS officials have always maintained that there is no proof that those killed or maimed were victims of the hippo attacks.
Mr Muthama said most people from the area are very poor and are forced to walk home in spite of the danger posed by the hippos.