July 13, 2020

Hippos Invade Villages After Floods

A flooded village in Lamu county. Image Zubeir Athman

By ZUBEIR ATHMAN

Email: thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Fear has gripped two villages of Witu sublocation in Lamu West following the invasion of dangerous animal and reptiles escaping from their flooded habitats after River Tana burst its banks due to the ongoing heavy rains.
Villagers of Moa and Chalaluma are living in utter fear of hippopotamuses; crocodiles and snakes attacks after the floods forced the wildlife out of their usual habitats into where people had solicited refuge for the same.
The two villages are among the hardest hit by the ravaging floods in the County from where more than 150 households (Moa Village) have been absolutely submerged leaving tens of hundreds of people homeless.

KENGEN DAMS
Apart from the heavy rains there, the situation has worsened because of two KenGen dams – Masinga and Kiambere – spilling millions of gallons of water into Tana River downstream causing some of its tributaries such Nyongoro break its banks.
This river and tributaries bursts have severely affected following villages of Lamu West Subcounty: Dide Waride, Jipendeni, Amkeni, Jericho, Mavuno and among other areas.

A Kenya Red Cross Lamu branch office indicates that over 600 households had been affected by the floods across the County.

Talking to journalists at Moa Village, residents said they have been spotting the wildlife in their areas from time to time since the floods began wreaking havoc there this week.

Mr Dido and Mrs Kulisa rescue some of their belongings in their flooded homes. Image: Zubeir Athman

Hassan Gurba, a villager, alleges the hippos and crocodiles had been swept out of the Tana known for its huge numbers of the same (wildlife).

The villager wants the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) to come up with effective ways and means of taming the crocodile or hippo attacks that are frequent during such flood periods.

According to him about 800 people reside at Moa village and its neighbouring villages that all depend on Lake Moa for their water and livelihoods.

“As we speak, that lake is now infested with hippos and crocodiles. This has turned it into a dangerous place to go although most of us again depend on it for survival,” he says.

In 2016, two children, aged 12 and 13 of Moa Primary School located about 20 metres from the lake, perished after they were attacked and killed by crocodiles.

Another resident, Halima Gubo, says the floods have forced them to put up with other families and friends in temporary makeshifts which open most of them to COVID 19 infections.

PAINS AND SUFFERING
According to her most of the families are enduring pains and suffering due to lack of enough food to eat after their food stores and farm crops were swept away by the floods.

“We are at the mercy of the national and county governments for relief food and other basics such as tents, beddings and medicine otherwise we will all perish,” she says.

Contacted, County KWS commander Mathias Mwavita confirmed receiving reports of crocodiles and hippo being spotted in some villages including Moa in Witu.

However, he warns school children and locals to keep off water bodies which could habit dangerous animals by not going for swimming or fishing in flooded ponds, dams, rivers, and lakes.

According to him there is a trend by locals to swim or fish in flooded ponds and rivers formed during rainy times of the year and the only safe way is to keep off such water bodies.

“We have in our custody reports about crocodiles and hippos sighted in Moa and other Witu villages. I have already dispatched my team there to deal with the issue,” he says adding that those living close to the swelling Tana River to go to higher grounds for their own safety.

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