Makueni man who survived hyena attack in 2020 killed by elephant

Josepheter Mutheu, whose husband was trampled to death by a rogue elephant, at Ilikoni village in Makueni County on March 2, 2023.

Photo credit: Pius Maundu | Nation Media Group

A Makueni man who survived a hyena attack three years ago has died following another attack by a marauding elephant.

In a case that highlights the bad situation of human-wildlife conflict in the county, Mzee Musili Musembi was walking home at Ilikoni village in Kibwezi East Constituency on Wednesday night when the lone jumbo attacked him.

Witnesses raised an alarm but the animal continued trampling the peasant to death, sending the sleepy neighbourhood into mourning.

Angry residents draped the victim’s body in the national flag and prevented the police from collecting it for hours to protest the "lacklustre" response by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) wardens to the wild animals' menace in the region bordering Tsavo East National Park.

For the better part of Thursday, the body remained at the scene where the jumbo had snuffed out the life of the peasant.

The residents demanded to be addressed by Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Penina Malonza.

They also wanted KWS to kill the rogue elephant. 

"We are tired of rampant attacks by elephants. The government has turned a blind ear to the plight of farmers in this region," Muli Mulevu, a resident, lamented.

The police fired tear gas and opened fire to disperse the villagers before collecting the body.

They later took it to the Kibwezi Hospital mortuary. The father of six was 72 years old.

According to his younger brother Vincent Makau, he was a member of the local Nyumba Kumi cell.

"He confronted a hyena that had attacked our livestock in 2020," his widow, Josepheter Mutheu, said.

In the 2020 attack, Mzee Musili sustained a bruise on his left hand.

Dairy cow that died in the hyena attack

A dairy cow that died in the hyena attack is among the numerous claims he has presented to KWS for compensation.

Mzee Musili is the latest victim of the endless human-wildlife conflict in the region.

The animals have destroyed crops, grain stores and plastic water tanks and disrupted learning in local schools.

Farmers in the sleepy region have reported increased attacks and destruction of crops and properties by elephants in recent months despite efforts by the county government and Tsavo Trust, a local conservancy, to seal off the park using an electric fence.

KWS has been shooting to death or relocating from the region elephants it deems rogue.

But this has not prevented the animals from sneaking into farmlands, leading to calls for intensified efforts to stem the elephants' menace.

"KWS should be proactive rather than reactive," Makueni Woman Representative Rose Museo said as she called for the completion of the ongoing electric fence and reduction of the population of jumbos in the parks.

"They should also construct dams in the parks to prevent the animals from sneaking into farmlands.”

Three weeks ago, Makueni Governor Mutula Kilonzo Junior led a delegation of county government officials and area politicians to seek the intervention of Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Penina Malonza.

The minister pledged the commitment of the government to stemming the rampant attacks by elephants through increased patrols by KWS rangers.

She also pledged to fast-track the compensation of those attacked by wild animals in the region.