People residing near the banks of River Nyabarongo have expressed concerns over increasing attacks by crocodiles from the water body, saying that the reptiles have increasingly become aggressive.
The affected residents are from Mageragere and Rugarika sectors in Nyarugenge and Kamonyi districts, respectively.
Jean de Dieu Mbarushimana, a resident of Masaka cell in Rugarika, was recently attacked by a crocodile from the river.
“I had gone to the shores to search for grass for my cows when suddenly something clutched my leg. Looking back, I saw a crocodile swimming away with my lower part of the leg. I was bleeding profusely until I was taken by boat to the health centre,” he said.
Théogène Munyaneza, the head of Ruramba village in Masaka cell, said crocodiles have claimed some lives.
“Crocodiles have mauled our neighbours. Besides the young man whose leg was bitten off, another man was mauled to death and before that a woman and her child were killed by the reptiles last year,” Munyaneza said.
He called upon the government to help hunt down the reptiles and kill them.
Besides threatening human life, the reptiles have attacked and killed livestock around the river, Munyaneza added.
Pierre Celestin Nsengiyumva, the executive secretary for Rugarika Sector, blamed those who graze on the river banks, saying that cows should always be kept in their sheds.
When contacted, Solange Mukasonga, the Mayor of Nyarugenge District, said they had embarked on sensitising the people in Mageragere on how to cope with the situation.
“Neighbouring a river is like neighbouring a national park. What we are trying to do is to ensure that the people in the area co-exist with the reptiles because we cannot exterminate the latter,” she said.
Vicent de Paul Kabalisa, the deputy director general for integrated water resources management at Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), said they are working on a deal with a Chinese firm to help them clear the Nyabarongo water to mitigate the attacks.
He said crocodiles contribute toward the country’s revenue, adding that they plan to work with Rwanda Development Board (RDB) to see how this can be achieved.
“We are also planning to negotiate with RDB to see how to make our reptiles profitable,” he said.