A one-year-old child is receiving life saving medical care in Hoima referral hospital after his genitals were bitten off in a chimpanzee attack.
The child was attacked by the chimpanzee on Thursday, July 2 in Bulemwa village, Bujumbura division in Hoima district.
The child’s mother Friday Kaahwa and a friend Juliet Kiiza were tilling in a garden when the attack happened. Kaahwa authorised Kiiza to speak to this reporter about what happened.
Kiiza says, “At around 8am, we had come to dig with Kaahwa who put the baby under the little mango tree so as the baby would not be affected by the direct sunshine as we proceeded to extract cassava.”
Kiiza says that they did not notice the chimpanzee stalking them until it was upon the baby who screamed as it snatched him up. Kiiza says the women raised an alarm and were joined by other women digging in other gardens.
Afraid to follow the chimpanzee into the forest, they called for help until a posse of men followed the ape.
The child was recovered with serious injuries to his face and genital area. The chimpanzee had bitten severely into his genitals.
Kaahwa’s child is the second to suffer a chimpanzee attack in a month.
Rosemary Nyangoma’s four year-old son was snatched by a gang of chimpanzees.
She remembers that, ‘’I was digging with my baby placed under a tree not far away from me only to see chimpanzees charging towards my son. They grabbed my son and run away to the forest with him for six hours. Locals came and helped to search for my son and we found him in the hands of a chimpanzee which we gave bananas and it put down my son. To my dismay, his private parts were off and also his legs injured.’’
Although her baby received treatment, Nyangoma says her child now suffers from periodic fainting spells doctors cannot account for. He continues to pass urine without control.
She worries about how his life will turn out when he is a man and wishes to become a father.
Residents are angry with government for failing to come to their aid to stop the chimpanzee attacks. They say that they are afraid to retaliate and kill them because they will be arrested as they are considered endangered species.
Norbert Kasozi of Chimpanzee Trust says the attacks have intensified because of human encroachment on the animals natural habitat.
Kasozi says, ‘’Forests are becoming smaller each day due to the communities farming practices which has exposed the chimps to humans on a daily.’’
Chimpanzee Trust is trying to educate communities on how to co-exist with chimpanzees in Hoima district. He says one of the tips they have tried to emphasise is the need to avoid wearing bright colours as they react aggressively to them.
They also encourage the community to keep children out of reach of the apes.
Hoima District is said to have the biggest forest cover in the country but most of the forests are also home to hundreds of chimpanzees and baboons.
Edited by David Tumusiime
All photos by Curthbert Kigozi