Boy, 6, attacked by wild animal on way to school in Makueni

The six-year-old boy in hospital with his mother Mary Kavata.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

A six-year-old boy was hospitalised at Makueni County Referral Hospital on Thursday after he was attacked by a wild animal on his way to school.

The Grade One pupil at Kiumoni Primary School was in the company of six other pupils, including his two siblings, when the horrific pre-dawn attack occurred.

"They spotted an animal in front of them when they reached Silanga Kwa Mboo area," the boy's mother, Mary Kavata, told the Nation.

"The animal charged at them. It caught up with Boniface and dragged him into a nearby bush," she added. She said the other pupils who escaped the harrowing experience raised an alarm as they fled, attracting villagers. One man rescued the boy.

"A group of Good Samaritans who were accompanying their children to school picked up Boniface and rushed him home. He was bleeding profusely from his head, hand and legs where he had been badly injured," the mother said.

On Thursday, medics declared Boniface out of danger. "When we received the patient, we immediately administered first aid which allowed us to stop the bleeding before sending him to the operating theatre for specialised treatment.

"We are happy to report that he is responding very well to medication," said Florence Mutuku, the nursing officer in charge at Makueni County Referral Hospital.

The attack on Boniface Kimeu has reignited the debate about when students should report to school. More importantly, it added to the growing outcry over increasing human-wildlife conflict.

According to Muusini Chief Bosco Musyoki, the attack took place in an area where residents had recently spotted hyenas.

"After the attack, some residents reported seeing three hyenas in the area the previous night. We also escalated the matter," he said.

According to Ms Mutuku, the district referral hospital has seen an increasing number of patients attacked by hippos and snakes in recent months. "Some of these patients end up with amputations. Others unfortunately succumb," she said.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens who visited Boniface in hospital on Thursday said the identity of the animal was still unknown. "We suspect it is a hyena. We have dispatched a team of rangers to hunt it down," a junior KWS warden told the Nation on condition of anonymity as protocol does not allow him to speak on behalf of the wildlife service.

Apart from hyenas, which have caused huge losses to locals after mauling livestock, residents have reported an increase in elephant attacks. Last week, residents of Mtito Andei blocked the Mombasa-Nairobi highway to demonstrate against the KWS's 'lacklustre' response to wildlife attacks. The demonstrations culminated in the arrest of Mtito Andei MCA Francis Mulwa and his Masongaleni counterpart Bryan Nzoka. They were released shortly afterwards.

In the past two months, elephants have killed three residents, destroyed acres of crops and destroyed granaries and plastic water tanks in the area.

They are also terrorising residents. An electric fence installed in the area by the Makueni County government and the Tsavo Trust, an organisation that runs a local game reserve, has failed to tame the elephant attacks.

Animal behavioural experts link the rampant attacks by wild animals to population pressure and a biting drought in the parks.

In a bid to tame the elephants, KWS has moved to build water pans in neighbouring national parks.

In May, the agency issued tenders worth millions of shillings for the construction of six water pans.