Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Wow! Not a great way to go; only in Africa.
A 31 yo Kenyan man works in people’s shambas (gardens). He does a lot of digging and moves around the local area. Two weeks ago he is digging in a shamba on the edge of Lake Naivasha in the middle of the day. Lake Naivasha is one of the Great Rift Valley Soda Lakes that string along from Tanzania up to Ethiopia. It is a 45 minute drive from Kijabe and we like to go there every month or so. Now about hippos. They are plentiful in Lake Naivasha and one rarely sees them out of the water. They spend the day mostly submerged in the Lake, and come out at night to forage for food. They might even go 3-5 kilometers away from the lake at night looking for grass. Since they are in the lake during the day you don’t have to be afraid of them until the night when they can be up around the lake and if encountered on land can be very deadly. That is why everyone stays away from the lake edge at night, or has powerful electric fences to keep the hippos out. Back to our digging man. He is working away in the middle of the day and should have nothing to worry about. He has probably done this typical day a thousand times. The problem is babies. When hippos have babies the mom will sometimes hide the baby along the lakeshore in the bushes and go off foraging for food. Unbeknownst to our digger he is near to a hidden baby hippo. Momma is quite a long way off but looks and sees that a strange man is close to her hidden baby. This will not do and she comes running at a full gallop to “save” her baby. The poor digging man doesn’t stand a chance and is crushed in the hippo’s mouth all along his right side. His right humerus suffers an open fracture, multiple ribs are broken, there are large abrasions/bruises along the right side of the body. He goes home and doesn’t show up to our hospital for 2 days. Enough time for the wounds to fester and him to become septic. We try to save him for about a week, but in spite of OR debridement/ex fix, chest tube placement, antibiotics, intubation and local wound care, he succumbs to his injuries.