Coast guard lauded for reduced hippo attacks

John Kamau (left) from Kasarani and Enoch Romano,were both attacked by Hippos in Lake Naivasha [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Cases of hippo attacks around Lake Naivasha have dropped to zero despite a rise in the number of animals around the lake.

The drop has been attributed to the introduction of officers from the Kenya Coast Guard Services (KCGS) who have also dealt with illegal fishermen.

Last year, more than 15 illegal fishermen popularly known as ‘foot-fishermen’ were killed by hippos while fishing in the lake.

The number of illegal fishermen has also gone down in the last six months due to the enforcement measures by the KCGS. 

Naivasha Sub-County commissioner Mutua Kisilu said cases of illegal fishing have dropped by more than 60 per cent.

Kisilu added that plans are underway to license some of the foot-fishermen as a way of empowering them and reducing crime.

“We will issue 100 licences, and among those who will benefit are former foot-fishermen who have formed self-help groups,” he said.

Lake Naivasha Boat Owners Association chairman David Kilo said no hippo attacks have been reported this year.

He said last year was the hardest after 15 illegal fishermen were killed by hippos.

“We have not recorded any case of hippo attack this year, but we are worried by the number of the roaming animals in nearby farms and estates."

Kilo, who is also an honorary warden, said a census conducted by a group of visiting scientists indicated that the lake had one of the highest numbers of hippos in the region.

“We are asking the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to conduct a fresh census and establish the real number of hippos around the lake as the group of visiting scientists said the numbers had doubled,” he said.

Kilo said the closure of wildlife corridors coupled with the rising water levels had reduced grazing grounds for the animals, making them hostile.