By Ismael Kasooha
KIBAALE - It was around 9:30am local time on Wednesday in Mabale village Bwikara sub-county in Kibaale district when two children were sent by their parents to buy ropes to tether their animals.
Little did they know that their seemingly innocent assignment would turn all around – against them. And there was hardly any foreboding signs for what lay right ahead. Danger invisibly prowled the two youngsters as they set out to purchase the ropes.
When brothers Barnabus Baguma, 6, and Paddy Ankunda, 2, reached a borehole, they saw some “strange animals” emerging from the bush. Then almost in a flash, one of the animals, which turned out to be a chimpanzee, seized the younger brother by the hand and dashed off into the bush with him.
“We were moving slowly with my brother and the animals came and took him to the bush,” Baguma told New Vision.
When he saw his sibling taken away, a dumfounded Baguma (left) acted almost instinctively. He alerted a woman who was walking ahead of them. She immediately raised an alarm, which attracted residents, including the father of the two boys.
The woman – Anastanzia Nyakiite – said she could not go after the chimp, and instead made an alarm which attracted other people.
“I had bypassed the two boys who were kicking about a banana fibre ball but I was surprised to hear that one had been kidnapped,” she said.
The boys’ father, Charles Bahati, said the alarm from people around reached him while he worked his garden.
So he dashed towards the direction of the noise brandishing a machete [panga], unaware that it was his younger child’s rescue he was running to.
According to Bahati, the first people who had reached the site of kidnap feared to enter the thicket to search for the abducted boy. So he braved his way into the bush to rescue his son. He was fearful though.
“Armed with my panga, I entered the bush with a lot of fear but with a purpose of rescuing by child,” he said.
After managing a few meters into the depths of the bush, the determined father saw a chimpanzee holding Ankunda by the hand and he shouted. Perhaps frightened, the primate then let go of the child.
“I made a very loud alarm and the chimpanzee abandoned the child and ran away.”
Bahati [a name that means ‘luck’ in Swahili] then ran to his son who lay on the ground unconscious, with a big wound on the back.
He then rushed the knocked out boy to a private clinic at Katikengeye for treatment. Luckily, the wound in the back is the only he had suffered, and regained consciousness a short while after receiving treatment.
By press time, the female nurse attending to the youngster reported that his condition was improving steadily.
“The boy responded positively to treatment and he is now normalizing,” said Rosemary Masika.
Chimp roasted, ‘fed to dogs’
Allin Bazira wrestled with a chimp that attacked him unawares in a plantation. PHOTO/ Ismael Kasooha
Meanwhile, in a related incident, a 52-year-old man in a nearby area escaped but with several injuries following a chimpanzee attack.
Allin Bazira said he was caught unawares while he slashed a coffee plantation.
He told New Vision that he caught eye of people running in disarray and almost instantly saw an enraged chimpanzee charging towards him.
The surprise attack then saw him wrestle with the primate which resulted in the man cutting off its hand.
Somehow, the 52-year-old man managed to slice off his attacker's hand. PHOTO/Ismael Kasooha
“I saw the chimpanzee engulfing me and wrestled me down and we started fighting,” narrated Bazira.
In the middle of the fight, he pushed his hand into the mouth of the chimpanzee when it wanted to bite him. It had pinned him down and squeezed its heavy body down against him.
When people saw the fight between man and chimp, they rushed to rescue him and used spears to kill the chimpanzee.
Bazira, who sustained serious injuries on the forehead and lost one of his fingers in the fight, was rushed to Katikengeye clinic – the same health facility where the abducted Ankunda was taken.
The residents say they fed the chimp meat to their dogs. PHOTO/ Ismael Kasooha
The angry residents then turned their fury on the dead animal, skinned it and cut it into pieces. They then skewed the meat, roasted it and allegedly fed it to their dogs.
“We have decided to roast it and give it to the dogs,” said John Ngirabanzi, one of the residents.
The area residents remain wary of the presence of eight chimpanzees they say that come from Muzizi forest where they usually stay.
They are appealing to government to come to their rescue and hunt down "these dangerous animals” and relocate them to their sanctuary.
“We are scared that our child may not go back to school for second term due to the presence of these chimpanzees in our area,” one resident sounded fearful.
Kibaale district is home to several chimpanzees, but incidents like these draw sharp focus on the safety of the people living around areas shared by the primates.
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Kibaale chimpanzee abducts child