Man seeks compensation a year after elephant attack

By: IRENE MURITHI

Sixty-year old Salim Ibrahim’s life was completely brought to a standstill after he was attacked by an elephant on October 22, 2014 outside his home in Mukungu Village in Ruiri, Meru County.

The huge scars on his chest, stomach and back are a reminder of the fateful morning. He had set out to take his grandson, then in Standard Three to school early that morning.

Both had only walked for about 100 meters when they encountered the elephant. Salim alarmed the animal as he tried to defend his grandson who had panicked.

Realising that the animal was ready to attack, they ran back towards home intending to take cover in the house. The elephant ran after them.

SERIOUS INJURIES

His grandson managed to get to the house of his great grandmother but Salim was attacked by the animal leaving him with serious injuries.

His wife remembers how she screamed since she had seen the whole incident. She was outside their house going about her normal household chores.

She watched as the elephant knocked down her husband and wounded him with its tusk. “I was doing my chores when I saw Dickson run straight into my mother-in-law’s house.

“Looking further I saw my husband being chased by an elephant and running towards me. “I stood calm hoping he would make it to the house but the elephant got to him first,” said Mrs Salim.

The young boy too did suffer trauma due to the attack. Dickson Mutuma was in Standard Three when he witnessed the elephant attack his grandfather.

“Even Dickson did not manage to go to school for the rest of the term. It is after Salim’s recovery that he joined Standard Three once again.

“He was traumatised by the experience and we had to transfer him to another school.

“The transfer would change his route so that he would not keep remembering the incident,” said Mohammed Ibrahim, brother to Salim.

HOSPITALISED FOR FIVE WEEKS

Salim was rescued by his brother and other villagers who had come to the scene of attack after hearing the screams.

He was then taken to the Meru Level 5 Hospital where he was hospitalised for five weeks before being discharged.

The case was reported at the Meru Police Station.

His injuries had not completely healed but according to the doctor who attended to him, Salim was fit to leave hospital and continue healing at home.

“By: the time he left hospital after five weeks, we had spent more than Sh100,000.

“We did seek help from the community but the family still strained to pay for his medical bill.

“Up to date he is under medication since his scars have not yet healed completely,” said Mr Mohammed.

A year is now gone and Salim can neither resume his work as a carpenter nor farm since his right arm was completely deformed and it cannot move.

“I was a carpenter and did farm work but now I wholly rely on my wife, children and other relatives to provide me with basic needs and medication,” said Mr Salim.

The family resides near the Imenti North forest, an extension of the Mt Kenya National Reserve in Meru Central.

IN SEARCH FOR FOOD

Mukungu Village is separated from the forest by an electric fence which is supposed to keep villagers safe from attacks by wild animals.

Elephants usually break through the fence in search for food.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has warned villagers against going beyond the fence.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (2013) stipulates that a genuine victim of human-wildlife conflict has a right to seek compensation.

Individuals can claim compensation from the County Wildlife Committee for loss of life, injury or damage to property caused by wild animals such as elephants, lions, leopards and hyenas, among others.

Loss of life, injury or property damage must be reported to the nearest KWS office within 48 hours.

MADE COMPENSATION CLAIM

With help from police, Salim and his family immediately reported the attack at Ruiri wildlife office.

They then sent documents to the same office claiming compensation for the injuries and the disability Salim acquired from the attack.

The officers in charge said Salim would be compensated for the attack after he was discharged from hospital.

“The wardens at Ruiri said they had to send the name and details to the county wildlife head office.

“They said the compensation would be paid after I was discharged from hospital but they later said that I had to wait for six more months,” said Mr Salim.

Salim awaits the approval of the committee since the wardens have already forwarded his name and claims.

“I went to the office last month and the wardens said that the committee already has the name and my claim.

“I did claim for compensation since my hand can do nothing and for the past one year I have been dependent on my family ever since the attack,” added Mr Salim

Salim hopes that KWS will soon effect his compensation which he has waited for since the attack more than a year ago.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION