Locals have legs ripped off in crocodile and hippo attacks at lake that’s only source of water

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Locals desperate for freshwater have been forced to use a deadly lake that is infested with hippos and crocodiles where some have lost their legs in attacks.

Residents, who live near Lake Baringo in Kenya, have no choice but to face their fears due to the lake being their lifeline. According to Environmentalists, the lake has doubled in size over the last ten years due to heavy rainfall linked to climate change.

However, the unsettling water levels have sparked an increase in predators and attacks. Joseph Atuma says he has just started fishing in the lake, five years after a hippo lunged at his canoe and tore part of his left leg off.

“It was hiding in the bushes, very near to the shore, a place where I wouldn’t expect a hippo to be. And it caught me by surprise,” he recalled. “It sank its teeth onto the wooden canoe and into my leg. Very little meat was left on my bone, between the knee and the foot.”

He said he finally re-visited the lake due to financial needs, reports BBC. “This is my bread and butter,” he continued. “I have tried some odd jobs here and there, but I cannot sustain my family.” The lake has grown so much that it has pushed out communities and covered buildings including schools, homes and hospitals.

Winnie Keben miraculously survived a crocodile attack as she was collecting water whilst washing her feet. Describing the moment she spotted the monster, she said: “I jumped and shouted.

I tried to escape but it attacked and grabbed my leg pulling me into the water. It eventually released my foot and bit my thigh, breaking it. An onlooker grabbed a machete and rescued me from the crocodile but my leg was chewed off.”

Winnie Keban now wears a prosthetic leg after she was ferociously attacked by a crocodile (Image: AP)
Winnie Keban now wears a prosthetic leg after she was ferociously attacked by a crocodile (Image: AP)
Winnie's husband Laban Keben had to help her fight off the crocodile ( Image: AP)
Winnie’s husband Laban Keben had to help her fight off the crocodile ( Image: AP)

The mum-of-six faced a six-month hospital stay and had to have a prosthetic leg fitted. But things went from bad to worse after she returned home to discover the property had been submerged by water. She has not returned since but is still haunted by the prospect that the river will expand to reach her new home.

Residents use the lake to catch fish and wash their clothes ( Image: AP)
Residents use the lake to catch fish and wash their clothes ( Image: AP)

Following safety fears of families and children, 66 residents have launched a lawsuit against the Kenyan government. They accused the authority of failing to respond to the climate crisis. They are pleading for financial compensation after many of them had to wave goodbye to livestock and ancestral land. Other issues cited include being exposed to diseases such as malaria and cholera.

Court papers filed on the communities’ behalf by the legal advice centre, Kituo Cha Sheria, partially read: “Entities responsible for putting in place relevant climate change policies to guarantee the right to a clean and healthy environment failed, refused and or neglected to do so.” The government has yet to respond to the lawsuit.


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This article by Monica Charsley was first published by The Mirror on 6 September 2023. Lead Image: Locals have warned the predators are getting closer to shore ( Image: AP).



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