Over 50 donkeys killed by hyenas in Lamu, scores injured

Lamu Sanctuary senior vet Felix Rachuonyo displaying some of the injuries on the donkeys. PHOTO: NATASHA NEMA.

Lamu, KENYA: Over 50 donkeys have been mauled to death and over 60 others injured after they were attacked by roaming hyenas in various Lamu islands for the last one month.

The population of the hyenas is said to be increasing by day due to the prolonged drought spell being experienced in Lamu at the moment.

According to report released by the Donkey Sanctuary Lamu office on Tuesday,the hyena attacks and subsequent deaths happened in Lamu town,Matondoni,Kipungani,Tchundwa and Siyu villages in Lamu East.

According to the Santuary’s senior vet Felix Rachuonyo,15 donkeys were killed by hyenas in Lamu town,15 in Matondoni village,12 in Kipungani,5 in Tchundwa and at least 10 in Siyu villages.

Speaking in his office on Tuesday,Rachuonyo said the facility receives at least 10 donkeys with hyena bites and wounds daily as the menace continues to get out of hand.

He said the situation had been worsened by the dry spell which he said seems to spur more and more of the attacks leading to more deaths for those who are unable to reach the facility from far flung islands.

Rachuonyo expressed concern that the number of donkey deaths could increase even more in the coming days if something isn’t done to contain the hyenas considering the drought situation keeps getting worse by the day.

He said it was funny that all the deaths in the respective villages were only being caused by one or two hyenas which seem to have dominated the areas while ruthlessly attacking the donkeys when the owners are asleep.

“Its just about two or three hyenas who are causing all this trouble.Can you imagine how the situation could get if ten of them decided to do the same.Losing over 50 donkeys in a place like Lamu where the animals are revered and hold a cultural meaning is something that definitely needs to be looked into.We will lose more and more donkeys if the hyenas aren’t contained soon enough.We understand its because of the drought which means the danger of them increasing is high since the dry spell is still bad,”said Rachuonyo.

He said the facility had in the last one month alone treated and discharged over 60 donkeys who had been bitten by the rogue hyenas.

“We have treated the lucky ones and allowed them to go back home.We still have others as inpatients at the facility since their wounds are still badly off and they need close monitoring to avoid being pricked or infection.We understand what the donkey means to the people of Lamu and that’s why we are concerned,”he said.

Residents say the apart from donkeys,the hyenas have also been attacking and feasting on other domestic animals including cows,goats and sheep once night falls.

“This week alone I have lost five donkeys,four cows and four goats.My other donkeys have been bitten but survived.This isn’t the first time since it has become a habit.Donkeys are our lives.We would rather not have cows but keep each donkey.We are calling on the KWS to take this matter seriously and address it soon,”said Shamsia Yusuf of Matondoni.

The chairperson of the Lamu County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation committee Ali Shebwana said they had received the reports of the hyena attacks from the victims but were awaiting and official report on the matter from the KWS.

Shebwana said due to the high number of owners whose donkeys have been killed,the committee together with the KWS is only seeking to compensate those whose donkeys were attacked and killed inside their homes.

He said it will be impossible to compensate those whose donkeys were killed elsewhere.

“We have engaged the KWS and have already sent our officers on the ground to give the correct number counts and also assess the situation for the purpose of compensation.We understand many donkeys have been killed but we shall only compensate for those that were attacked and killed inside their sheds in the respective homesteads by the hyenas,”said Shebwana.

Donkeys remain the major means of transport for Lamu town and other islands and are used to transport people and luggage.

In Lamu,the donkey is revered more than any other animal and many locals have attested to preffering to keep donkeys than cows or goats.