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Hippo invasion keep Matungu, Mumias residents out of farms

Thursday August 29 2019

hippos

A hippo raises its head from the waters of River Lusumu at Elwanda village on August 29, 2019. Locals say the animals have destroyed crops and killed livestock. PHOTO | SHABAN MAKOKHA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SHABAN MAKOKHA
By SHABAN MAKOKHA
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Residents of Matawa, Eburangasi, Mayoni and Lureko sub-locations in Matungu and Mumias West sub-counties are living in fear due to hippopotamus invasion.

They are appealing with Kakamega Forest National Reserve (KNFR) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to tame the beasts that are destroying crops and killing livestock.

The locals have now been forced to impose night curfews for fear of being attacked by the marauding hippos.

Most of the locals have had their crops destroyed by the animals often seen in River Nzoia.

FEAR

Some of the residents have stopped crop farming for fear that their crops will be destroyed by the hippos which are continuing to cause losses.

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Mr Josephat Waburaka from Emuchimi village is counting loses after the hippos from River Nzoia destroyed his maize plantation.

 “I invested a lot on the farm. I purchased maize seeds, fertilizer and hired a tractor for ploughing and furrowing during land preparation. I paid labourers who assisted me in planting and weeding. But all these have been reduced to nothing by the hippos,” said Mr Waburaka.

Mr Ramadhan Shianda from Elwanda village in Matawa lost a bull valued at Sh50,000 after it was killed by the hippos.

“I heard the heavy grunting of the hippos in my compound at 11pm on Wednesday. I could not dare get out of the house because the beasts could attack me,” said Mr Shianda.

He said while two of the hippos grazed gracefully in his maize farm, a male one approached his three heads of cattle and attacked the bull killing, it as he watched helplessly.

DESTROY CROPS

Mr Saleh Musiko from Mwilunya village is another victim of the beasts which move in a group of three.

“They destroyed my maize farm, we are afraid they will kill someone soon,” said Mr Musiko.

The story is the same for Mr James Khalayi and Emmanuel Obongita from Emachinga village in Mayoni sub-location, Matungu sub-county who are counting losses since their maize farms have been destroyed by the animals.

The locals, whose homes are not connected to electricity, now use solar power to light their homes and keep the hippos away.

“We have purchased solar lighting systems to scare the beasts,” said Mr Musiko.

Lureko location chief Leo Wanzala said over seven heads of cattle have been killed in two years by the hippos, which have also damaged crops. 

SCARE ANIMALS

“Despite reporting the cases to KWS, nothing much has been done, neither have the farmers been compensated,” said Mr Wanzala.

The administrator says even though locals have decided to use solar lights to scare away the animals, most of them do not have the gadgets owing to their high cost.  

KFNR deputy warden Kilodi Ndorosi has, however, denied the farmers’ complaints, arguing that locals have invaded riparian land.

According to Mr Ndorosi, no farming activity should take place 30 to 60 meters from the river.  

“People living near rivers have invaded the stretch along the river banks that is supposed to be reserved for the aquatic animals and this has created man-wildlife conflict. That is why they don’t report to us when the animals destroy their crops along the river banks,” said Mr Ndorosi.

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