Climate change: Kenyan village paying heavy price

March 23, 2015 9:24 am

Human-wildlife conflict
Kiprono said the recently established county wildlife committees would mount public awareness campaigns to educate Kenyans on the link between climate change and human-wildlife conflicts.

Under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013, deaths resulting from any animal attack qualify for compensation of a maximum Sh5 million, while those who survive with injuries get up to Sh2 million.

The director urged Kenyans to wake up to the reality of the complex human wildlife conflict. People living in arid lands are being warned to conserve their environment lest they bequeath the next generation with a more complicated problem. Victims who survive puff adder attacks end up with amputated limbs.

Another victim, Mwanthi Maliwa, had his left leg amputated at Embu Provincial Hospital after he was attacked by a puff adder in Wingemi village, Nuu location.

“I was grazing cattle in the fields when a huge snake appeared from a tree shade, bit me and coiled itself around my legs,” says Maliwa. He was rescued by villagers.

“When I reached Mwingi hospital four hours later, doctors cut off the lower part of my leg before referring me to Embu Provincial Hospital, where the rest of the leg was amputated,” adds Maliwa.

In Nduvani village, a primary school teacher, Simon Kithonga, died 30 minutes after he was attacked by a black-necked-cobra near his poultry house three days after his sister was attacked by the same snake.

Fatal bites
“My son had just arrived home from school at 7pm and as he passed by the poultry house, the snake jumped at him and bit him on the chest,” says his mother, Mary Kithonga.

A research by a local Community Based Organisation dubbed ‘Visionary Advocacy for Snake Cases’ established that in the last 10 years, 295 cases of snake bites were reported in the area, out of which 100 were fatal.

The coordinator of the CBO, which helps victims access justice, Peter Musyoka, says 80 victims have had either their legs or hands amputated while many others got little or no compensation.

“The core value of the organisation is to sensitise the residents on how to improve the environment around their homesteads to ward off the snakes and to educate them on how to administer first aid,” says Musyoka.

Rhoda Mwangangi, a director with Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRCE), however, cites poor infrastructure and lack of transport as the major cause of rising death cases.

“Most of those who have died lacked transport to take them to the nearest health centre for first aid,” said Ms Mwangangi. “We encourage residents to spray their compounds with petroleum products like kerosene and burn old tyres to scare off the reptiles.”

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