Tragedy as another boy mauled by hyenas in Juja

One of the hyenas captured by KWS in Juja sub-county.

Photo credit: Pool

Grief has engulfed Gwa Kigwi village in Juja, Kiambu after a pack of hyenas mauled a 10-year-old boy to death, a month after another nine year-old boy suffered same fate.

The boy, identified as Dennis Teya, a Grade Four pupil at a local school, was said to have been walking home with his friends on Wednesday night when they were attacked by the animals.

According to residents, the boys fled for their lives when they were attacked, only for one of them to be attacked and killed by the wild animals.

Residents launched a search for the missing boy and discovered a trail of blood leading to the swamp where they found a huge hyena feasting on the boy, who had been devoured from head to toe on his left side.

The latest attack comes just days after residents of Nyacaba, Witeithia, Maraba and Kabati in Juja, Kiambu County thought they could finally sleep without fear after Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) deployed officers to the villages to hunt killer hyenas that have claimed the lives of villagers in the recent past.

KWS has since announced that it has so far translocated 12 hyenas from Juja in an effort to reduce human-animal conflict in the area.

In a statement, KWS says it immediately deployed the Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU), which strategically placed traps, initiated hyena captures and mobilized a veterinary unit to translocate and relocate the hyenas from the human-dominated area.

"Regrettably, Juja Sub-County in Kiambu County has witnessed an upsurge in human-hyena conflicts resulting in the tragic loss of human lives. KWS extends its condolences to the affected families," the statement said.

In December, when at least 20 KWS were deployed in the area, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park warden Fred Kisera said the officers would be tasked with capturing the hyenas and returning them to the park.

"These interventions will significantly reduce the conflict. This approach involves actively tracking, capturing and translocating hyenas," he said.

Such attacks are common in the area. In November 2023, a pack of hyenas mauled a nine-year-old boy to death.

In early December, angry residents of Nyacaba village in Juja sub-county blocked a section of Thika Road and prevented police officers from collecting the body of a middle-aged woman who was mauled to death by suspected hyenas.

The woman was believed to have been walking from Nyacaba village to Ndarugu coffee plantation when she was attacked by the animals.

In September 2022, another nine-year-old boy was also mauled to death by a pack of hyenas.

The incident came just months after a 35-year-old man from the neighboring village of Athi was similarly attacked by about eight hyenas.

Earlier, two other people were attacked by the same animals in Witeithie village in Juja and Thika constituencies respectively.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) later warned the people of Juja and Thika about the marauding animals that have been attacking residents.

Now, the locals have been forced to adopt a self-imposed curfew routine, ensuring that they are home before dark. Each day, as darkness falls, people lock themselves in their homes and the hyenas take over, their disturbing 'laughs' a constant reminder of who rules the nights.

KWS has since launched Operation Ondoa Fisi following complaints from people in the area that the wild animals are terrorizing residents, with some responsible for nightmarish attacks on people near human settlements.

The wildlife organization also called on the county government to rehabilitate abandoned quarries, fence operating quarries and the Makongeni dumpsite, which could be popular hiding places for hyenas.

Other actions taken by KWS included holding meetings with residents to educate them on hyena behavior and safety measures, and holding consultative meetings with Kiambu leaders to implement local conservation resolutions.