Not a month that passes by without the news of a missing person in villages surrounding the Bura East Conservancy. Late this month, locals from Bura village were disturbed by news of yet another crocodile attack along the banks of Tana River. The frequent attacks by the enormous beasts have now become a norm with desperate communities spending sleepless nights along the banks of the river with the hope of sighting floating bodies.
In May 2017, a thirteen years old boy was the latest victim of the vicious crocodiles’ attack having been snatched and gobbled in the river whilst trying to fetch water for his family.
“The crocodiles have been targeting women and children” says Aden one of the villagers who was helping with the search and rescue. “if nothing is done urgently we will lose our families to these dangerous crocodiles” he added. Efforts from the community were in vain as helpless traditional divers could not retrieve the body remains after several frantic searches in the already swollen Tana river waters. Embarrassingly, the traditional volunteer divers don't get any help from the authorities. Retrieving a family member body or remains from Kenya’s biggest river is never a joyous occasion, but it can be a comfort. This is because crocodile kill their prey by holding them under water to drown.
“We know the river is dangerous but we can also not do without it”— says the area chief while consoling with the family. To minimize conflicts the communities may therefore need 1) repair of the only existent borehole in the area 2) probably provision of items/tools necessary during emergencies 3) perhaps a speed boat that can help in rescue missions. While locals continue to pay the brunt of co-existing with these dangerous reptiles, crocodile farming is also common elsewhere in Kenya, where it generates a significant amount of revenue as a tourist attraction. Could this therefore be the ultimate solution to curb these conflicts? The Hirola Conservation Programme is currently engaging these communities to explore potential solutions for this problem.