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Fishermen panic as hippos kill three in Lake Naivasha

Rift Valley
 Hippopotamus at Lake Naivasha. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The fisherfolk around Lake Naivasha have raised concern over the rise in hippo attacks that have claimed three lives in the last week.

Three middle-aged men were killed by hippos near Kihoto estate and Karagita landing beach in three separate incidents while on an illegal fishing mission.

In the last couple of months, cases of human-wildlife conflict have risen around the water body with encroachment on riparian land and crossing of wildlife corridors cited as the cause.

In the latest case, three men were fishing on the shores of the lake when they were attacked separately leading to their deaths.

Grace Nyambura, the chair of Lake Naivasha and Oloidien Boat Owners’ Association, said the most affected were illegal fishermen popularly known as ‘foot-fishermen.’

She noted that there was an increase in the number of foot-fishermen in the lake leading to the fatal attacks by hippos whose number was also on the rise.

“In the first incident, one man was killed in Kihoto while two others were crushed to death by the strong jaws of hippos near Karagita landing beach in three different incidents,” she said.

Naivasha OCPD Stephen Kirui said the bodies were removed to the mortuary.

Kirui termed the human-wildlife conflict worrying and called for concerted efforts to address the same.

“We have come to establish that all those who lost their lives were illegal fishermen who were fishing near the shores of the lake and there is a need to address these attacks,” he said.

Friends of Lake Naivasha Chairman Francis Muthui noted that more than 30 people were killed or maimed by hippos last year while fishing or walking on the shores of the lake.

He said that over 50 per cent of riparian land around the lake had either been fenced or cultivated and this had reduced pasture grounds for hippos, buffaloes and antelopes leading to a sharp increase in wildlife attacks.

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