Lethal mauling by hyenas is not new to villagers in Kiambu’s Juja subcounty, as dozens residents have lost their lives in the jaws of the carnivores.
Many other victims have been left with or life-long impairment.
And the situation appears to be worsening, with residents living in terror and demanding KWS intensify its crackdown and expedite compensation.
Hyenas are mostly nocturnal but also attack in early morning.
Clans of hyenas have been roaming the villages including Nyacaba, Malaba, Athi, Juja Farm, Muthaara, Magomano, Mukuyu among others in Witeithie and Kalimoni wards, wreaking havoc and terrorising residents with vicious attacks.
Dennis Tiya, 10, is the latest victim of the marauding predators. His dismembered body was recovered in a thicket at Gwa Kigwi village on January 3.
His father, Tiya Moinani, is still staggered by the loss of his firstborn son who was a Grade pupil at Thiririka Primary School.
He still keeps the boy’s photo on his phone.
On his last day on earth, Moinani was escorted by his son as he headed to work but he didn’t know that was the last time he’d see him alive.
“He was a joyful boy and fun to be with. He was loved by other kids and residents in this village. He met his painful death while in company of five other boys when the hyenas attacked them,” his father said.
“The other boys managed to escape but he fell and was dragged by the hyenas to a thicket where they feasted on him. I cannot bear the pain,” he said.
Moinani wept as he told journalists that losing his son at such a tender age was the worst experience of his life. He said the boy had a bright future cut short by voracious predators
“Shivers went down my spine when I was told on the phone what had transpired. I gathered strength and went to the thicket. My son had been devoured from head to toe on his entire left side, he said.
He has already relocated his family – two other children and their mother – to their rural village in Oloitoktok in Kajiado county for their safety. “We had just been blessed with a newborn so I had to take them back home where they will be safe and taken care of,” he h said.
In the neighbouring Nyacaba village in Juba, the family of 10-year-old Emmanuel Kamande is grieving the loss of their son to hyenas.
Kamande, who was a Grade 4 pupil at Private Highway Academy was attacked by a clan of hyenas on November 18, 2023, as he was heading home from church with three other children.
His father, Peter Ngugi, does not utter a word regarding the killing, according to Moses Nguyo, a close family member.
Nguyo said that the boy’s parents have become shadows of their former selves.
“The boy was with his elder sister and two other children when the hyenas pounced as they were heading home. As they ran for safety, Kamande fell and was dragged by the beasts to the bushes,” he said.
“We only found his bloody, tattered clothes and some badly mutilated body parts. His parents are traumatised.”
In September 2022, the hyenas killed nine-year-old Ryan Njoroge in the same village. He had stepped out of their house for a short call but never returned.
His father, Mark Njoroge, only found his clothes, a piece of rib, and the spinal cord in a shrub, a few metres from their home.
Not only are the little ones attacked.
Earlier, the same year, Robert Mwangi, 35, a casual quarry labourer in a local quarry was attacked as he walked to his Athi village home. His mutilated body was discovered by residents in a bush. Co-workers identified him through his clothes and boots.
At Malaba village, just a few kilometres from Nyacaba village, a woman was attacked by hyenas but is lucky to be alive, though she suffered serious eye injuries.
Beatrice Wairimu, 42, and her son were coming from a shop near her home on January 13 at around 8pm when one huge hyena lunged at them.
“I heard something sniffing from our back and thought it was a dog. However, on turning, I saw a huge hyena and alerted my son. As we were escaping, I fell on the ground and the hyena bit my left eye,” she said.
Wairimu was rescued by her neighbours who heard her screaming. The hyena vanished into the darkness.
“I was rushed to Jotram Medical Center and later Thika Level Five Hospital. The doctors told me that I’d never be able to close that eye again but I thank God that I’m healing well and can close it,” she said.
The attack left her with constant headaches and dizziness, making it impossible for her to work.
“I was forced to stop working in the farms where I was a casual labourer because of headaches. This has significantly affected our family income and well-being,” she said.
The families of the victims called on the Government through the Kenya Wildlife Service and other authorities to intensify the crack down on the hyenas that was launched in December last year.
Residents said they are living in fear, and even businesses are suffering and have had to reduce their hours of operation.
“The situation has become so dire that schools that ideally should be opened for early preps and revision are being opened at 8am for the safety of the children and closed at 4pm instead of the usual 5pm,” Nguyo said.
Residents called on the government to speed up compensation for loss of life and injuries by the wild animals and drive the animals away so communities can heal and live in peace.
Moinani said that he only received Sh30,000 as consolation from the Kenya Wildlife Service.
“The money helped me prepare and bury my son but I plead with the government to fast-track the compensation, even if it won’t bring back my son,” he said.
Nguyo said Kamande’s family has completed all KWS requirements for release of the compensation and called on the authority to expedite payment.
Fredrick Kisera, the warden in charge of Kiambu county, told a meeting at Nyacaba village that families who lost a relative to hyenas would be compensated Sh5 million.
He said they have set up more traps in villages across Juja to capture the hyenas and translocate them to Ol Donyo Sabuk Park in Machakos county.