Kiambu plots revenge on killer hyenas that mauled mother of three

A clan of hyenas recently attacked and killed a woman who was walking to a coffee plantation in Nyacaba area, Juja Sub County.

Photo credit: File

What you need to know:

  • Several boda boda riders witnessed the hyenas attacking and killing Joyce Wambui, but fled the scene for fear of also being mauled. 
  • In a statement on Friday, the KWS said a commander with a team of 20 men has been tasked with tackling the hyena menace.

On December 2, 2023 around 5am, a clan of hyenas in Nyacaba area of Juja Sub County attacked and killed Joyce Wambui, a mother of three who was walking to a nearby coffee plantation.

“She was walking on a feeder road surrounded by bushes when a pack of hyenas emerged from the thickets and after felling her, dragged her away as she screamed,” said Martin Nduati, a boda boda rider.

According to Mr Nduati, several boda boda riders witnessed the attack but they fled the scene for fear of also being mauled. 

Following her death, residents mounted roadblocks to prevent the police from collecting the remains demanding that the government takes the matter more seriously.

“We want the world to know that we have an uncaring government that watches as though amused as its citizens are eaten by wild animals… amplifying the indignity that is being suffered by poor residents who must move around in search of livelihood and hyenas making them prey,” said Mrs Mary Ndirangu, the deceased’s family spokesperson.

The animals had a week earlier snatched a nine-year-old boy on his way from church and killed him.

The son’s father was former Witeithie Member of County Assembly Mr Peter Ngugi who told Nation.Africa that “we as a family are too traumatised to comment but we are praying to God to give us the fortitude to bear”.

On September 1, 2022, the hyenas ate 95 per cent of Ryan Njoroge with area chief Mr Muiruri Muchui lamenting that “we suspect these animals are over 200”.

KWS blamed

He said the problem with the hyenas spans more than two decades “since this place was a mass of thickets and real estate and mining boom spreading into this region made the conflict erupt”. 

Muchui said that now that the thickets have become private land duly titled, the area should not be considered as wildlife habitat “and that is the reason the government is doing all it can to secure the place exclusively for humans”.

Kiambu woman Rep Anne Wamuratha told Nation.Africa that “the pain that most families are undergoing as a result of these hyenas that have multiplied in most parts of Juja Sub County and spreading to parts of Gatundu and Ruiru constituencies, is grave”.

“The reported cases are negligible and there is a possibility of many others who have been reported lost without trace ended up as meals for the hyenas,” she said.

Ms Wamuratha lamented that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), local administration, leaders and grassroots security committees should declare hyenas a Kiambu county tragedy.

“We cannot continue having mourners, orphans, widows, widowers and disability cases arising from hyenas that have invaded human habitation. We cannot exactly face Juja people straight in the face and declare that we have protected their lives…We must make their security against these hyenas real,” she said.

Kiambu governor Kimani Wamatangi visited the family of the late Wambui on Sunday and blamed KWS and contractors who harvest building stones for the menace.

He said in the past two years more than 20 such cases have been reported, eight of them in the past three months.

Hyena attacks

“There comes a time when we must abandon being a talk shop and address this menace in the best interest of the people,” he said.

“We cannot continue like this where now and then we are being called upon to mourn a victim of hyenas and then retreat to wait for another victim," he added.

Mr Wamatangi said some contractors are notorious for leaving behind gaping holes that later become habitation for hyenas. He issued a one-month ultimatum to KWS to hunt down the killer hyenas.

“They should camp in the place and leave only after the last of the man-eaters has been trapped…They should take their hyenas to their forests…and if they don’t, I will personally lead the masses to hunt those hyenas to the last one standing,” he fumed.

Mr Wamatangi said he would provide excavators with direct orders to fill the holes with soil.

"KWS should choose between the hyenas and human life. They should tell us which is more important between the hyenas and human beings."

At the same time, Senator Mr Karungo wa Thang’wa has requested for a statement from the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Environment and Natural Resources regarding the rising fatalities from hyena attacks.

In a statement on Friday, the KWS said a commander with a team of 20 men has been tasked with tackling the hyena menace.

“The operation will be taking place between dawn and dusk. We urge residents not to interfere with the exercise. We are using dangerous materials including projectiles and some residents upon hearing the explosions are rushing to the scene in the night to witness,” KWS said.

Area Deputy County Commissioner Mr Charles Muriithi expressed regrets over the latest incidents of hyena attacks.