KWS Relocates Hippos Terrorizing Govt Workers in Naivasha

October 19, 2023

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has moved a group of six hippos that had been causing distress to workers at the Naivasha Water and Sewerage Company (NAIVAWASCO) sewage treatment plant in Naivasha, resulting in the death of one employee.

Addressing the relocation operation in Naivasha, Dr. Dominic Mijele, Assistant Director of Veterinary Services at the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), explained that the move was prompted by complaints from NAIVAWASCO employees. The hippos had posed a threat, leading to the unfortunate death of an employee last month while carrying out duties at the treatment plant.

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The hippo family, having ventured from the nearby Lake Naivasha, took residence at a sewage pond within the treatment plant, creating challenges for NAIVAWASCO employees. After ten days of setting traps and subsequently sedating the hippos, KWS relocated the animals to Laikipia Conservancy in containers on trucks.

Dr. Mijele mentioned that they have constructed moats (depressions) around the treatment plant as a temporary measure to prevent hippos escaping from the lake from reinvading the facility.

However, he emphasized that this is a short-term solution. Dr. Mijele recommended that the county put up a proper fence around the plant, as the moats could be filled up during rainfall, creating an opportunity for the hippos to breach the facility once again.

Alex Mbugua, the Member of the County Assembly (MCA) for Lakeview Ward, who was present during the hippo relocation, welcomed the move and urged KWS to adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach to incidents of animal attacks.

“The hippos have been at this treatment plant since 2020 and reproduced and increased in number, making them become aggressive in order to protect the young ones, but KWS did nothing,” he said.

The Wildlife Research and Training Institute reports that Lake Naivasha is home to an estimated 500 hippos, a number considered optimal for the water body.

In the past year, more than 20 individuals, primarily foot-fishermen, have suffered fatal injuries or maiming incidents due to encounters with the hippos during fishing activities.

The escalation of human-wildlife conflicts across the country is attributed to factors such as population growth, agricultural expansion, infrastructure development, climate change, and habitat loss.

In addressing this challenge, Dr. Mijele recommends that residents in areas prone to wildlife conflicts unite and contribute their land to establish conservancies. This collaborative effort aims to maximize the benefits derived from coexisting with the wildlife in the regions.

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