Snake attack cases soar as dry spell sets in

Residents of Kerio Valley in Elgeyo Marakwet County display a spitting cobra that they killed near their homestead. [Kevin Tunoi/Standard]
Kerio Valley residents are living in fear due to increased cases of snake bites.

They told The Standard yesterday that there are at least two attacks every week, and that they resulted in death or crippling injuries.

The situation, they said, had worsened after a dry spell hit the region, prompting the reptiles to invade homes in search of water.

Prisca Kosgei from Rokocho village narrated how her husband, Daniel Kosgei, was attacked while building a granary late last year.

“My husband was bitten on his left leg by a black mamba and died as he was being taken to nearby health facility,” she said.

The black mamba is one of the world’s deadliest snakes and its fast-acting venom can kill in 20 minutes.

Another victim, Celestine Kipruto, narrowly survived a deadly attack by a spitting cobra at her Kabokbok home.

“It was around six in the evening when I was preparing supper. When I reached for a pot to get water, I was sprayed in the face with venom,” she said in telephone interview.

Ms Kipruto said that neighbours came to her aid and managed to kill three snakes. Another resident, Stephen Cheruiyot, urged the national and county governments to ensure that local health centres had sufficient stocks of snake bite drugs.

“The issue is worsened by lack of anti-venom drugs in our health facilities, leading to fatalities or amputations because of delayed treatment,” he said.

Mr Cheruiyot said victims often resorted to traditional herbs, known as ‘black stone’, before seeking treatment in hospital.

Elgeyo Marakwet Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Warden John Ngalia said the region’s rocky terrain and scrubland made it the perfect habitat for snakes.

He said KWS was sensitising residents on how to keep out of harm’s way, advising them to leave containers with water outside for the snakes as well as clearing bushes near their homesteads.

In Busia, the relatives of people killed by snakes have appealed to KWS to speed up the compensation process.

Zachary Okello said his wife, Judith Nabwire, was bitten by a snake along the road in Esirimba, Matayos constituency, in February 2016.

She was taken to the Busia County Referral Hospital, where she died after failing to get treatment owing to lack of anti-venom drugs.

Mr Okello said he visited the KWS western regional office and filled a compensation form, but that was the last he heard about the matter.

John Barasa, another victim, was bitten on the left leg on his way from a funeral in 2015.

“We have been asking for compensation but KWS is telling us to wait as they process the money,” said Mr Barasa.

Brian Kisiangani, a KWS warden, said several claims had been received claims from relatives and victims of snake and crocodile attacks.

“We did our part as KWS by taking the forms to the Environment ministry and they are now with Treasury. We would like to see those people compensated, so we are following up,” Mr Kisiangani said

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Kerio Valley residentssnake bitesSnake attacks