Kenya: Biting baboons of Nakuru

In Nakuru county, some 160 km from Kenya's capital city Nairobi, the primates and residents of Lake view estate engage in a war of might daily.
In Nakuru county, some 160 km from Kenya's capital city Nairobi, the primates and residents of Lake view estate engage in a war of might daily.

By Daniel Kipchumba Ng’etich.

The nice vicinity, bordering the vast lake Nakuru, one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, hides a deep resentment between the two mammals – humans and baboons. The nice panoramic view hides deeply the raging war between the irate residents and the apes who have found their way into their homes.

It’s a war that baboons and human beings long to end. Yet, the raging war shows no end in sight.

In Nakuru county, some 160 km from Kenya’s capital city Nairobi, the primates and residents of Lake view estate engage in a war of might daily.

Despite the presence of a huge electric fence around the park and a 24 hour armed guards, the baboons have a way of sneaking out to reign terror to their neighbours.

Residents recount gory details of attacks from animals, leaving them with scathing wounds and horrific memories. Worse still, they remain exposed to the threat of contracting rabies from the primates.

Late November 2017, ten year old Victory Karanja, found himself in a serious battle with one of the beasts while returning from a shop to purchase airtime.

He struggled to break away, but the ferocious animal was determined to pin him down

It was a struggle that ended minutes later, but left him with scathing bite wounds on the leg. A bite so deep that the wound was gorging out blood by the time his mother, Ms Wangui, a casual laborer, learnt about her son’s incident from her daughter, who called her crying.

Karanja says the baboon was targeting his knee but he pushed it to the wall, and ran away, not knowing that it had bit him already.

“The neighbors are the ones who  realized that I was bitten after seeing blood flow on my leg, so they gave me some pain killers’’, he  narrates.

The neighbours rushed the boy to Langalanga sub-county hospital for treatment, where the wound was cleaned, dressed and anti-rabies injections were 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 and  the chief warden.

“I was informed 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’’ she quips.

There have been at least six more cases of the same nature after her sons attack, says Wangui, which still terrorize the poor boy.

“He fears sleeping in darkness claiming, the baboon might come back. He has vivid nightmares about baboons and has to be accompanied to the toilet even during the day. He remains worried and traumatized and needs urgent counseling but I can’t  do anything about it’’, Wangui narrates.

Her son got five anti-tetanus jabs and anti rabies dose at a cost of $80 each.

Sarah Kimania Human-Rights Defender, pointed out that there has been a lot of attacks from baboons and wild dogs from the park targeting women and children. She added that the residents have lodged numerous complaints about incidents of attacks by baboons and wild dogs from the park and women and children have been particularly vulnerable

MsKimaniwants a review of the KWS  compensation law forcing the organisation to cater for at least  half of the bill incurred after the attacks.

Joab Tsuma, a community leader, says  although snakes and baboon bites are rampant in the area.. 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 couldnt ’’, says Tsuma.

Some of the Landlords in the area have resorted to hiring  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.

According to the world Health Organization Monkey bites account for 2–21% of animal bite injuries in the world. It recommends the rabies post-exposure treatment depending on the animal vaccination status and immediate administering of the tetanus vaccine.

Even with the high risk, the residents expressed concern that County Government did not have enough anti rabies vaccine, exposing them to the risk of a disastrous outbreak every time one is bitten by the primates.

Many have fled the area after the animals became violent, often raiding their kitchens in search for food. Landlords in turn have been forced to hire youth with catapults to chase away the annoying animals in an attempt to keep their customers satisfied.

Wildlife Conservation and Management (Compensation Scheme) Regulations, 2015
calls for the establishment of  a County Wildlife Conservation and CompensationCommittee that will oversee the reimbursement of victims of human – wildlife conflict.

However, it mandates the committee to submit any claim of attack to the cabinet secretary within thirty days, after verifying the claim from the victim.

The claimant should produce an Identity Card or, if a minor birth certificate in any of the incidents. Among other documents required are death certificate, P3 Form (Medical report of the person injured) and a filled claim form available in their website.

They should alsoattach A report from an Assessor appointed by the Service and , evidence of ownership of land where loss or damage to crop, livestock orproperty occurred