Victims of animals attack in Akagera Park compensated

MORE THAN 600 farmers who were affected by stray animals from Akagera National Park were, on Tuesday, compensated for property destroyed.
Part of the Akagera National Park that was fenced to cut off stray wild animals from human settlements.   The New Times/  File.
Part of the Akagera National Park that was fenced to cut off stray wild animals from human settlements. The New Times/ File.

MORE THAN 600 farmers who were affected by stray animals from Akagera National Park were, on Tuesday, compensated for property destroyed.

The government, through the Special Guarantee Fund, compensated Ndego sector residents affected by the animals to a tune of Rwf130 million.

Following persistent loss of crops and lives to the stray animals from the largest park in the country, government passed a compensation bill in June 2011.

The law allows compensation to persons attacked by wild animals from any gazetted national park.

According to Bernardin Ndashimye, the head of the fund, all people whose crops or other property were destroyed by the animals would be compensated, adding that people handicapped by the animals would also get reparations.

He said the issue of animal attacks would soon be history after the completion of park fencing.

“We shall compensate all the eligible claimants, particularly for their property and lives. The sick will be treated, handicapped given what they need to be mobile, etc,” he said.

No uniform pay

Reacting to victim’s dissatisfaction over what they called small amount of money, Ndayishimiye said there could not be uniform payment.

“It is human nature that people never get satisfied. We paid according to the loss one incurred. Different crops are valued differently, we pay in that line. What we can’t do is bring back the dead; otherwise our commitment can’t be over-emphasised,” he said.

Protegene Niyonzima, the Ndego sector agriculture officer, said the compensation was long overdue.

“The people living in this area have endured for long. They lost everything they planted. Some actually left the area when they could no longer feed their families,” he said.

“We also have the handicapped that need help, the little money and the electric fencing is a big boost,” he added.

Measly amount?

Anastase Ngiruwonsanga, a resident who suffered an attack by a hippopotamus, said the compensation for the handicapped was far too small.

“We acknowledge the compensation idea, but again the process the handicapped go through to get compensation is rather tedious. We are told to go through expensive medical examination and obtain proof. Let the government make it easy for us to go through the procedures,” Ngiruwusanga, who says he has a permanent leg injury out of the attack, said.

 Ndego sector executive secretary, Alex Bright Nsoro said the compensation process would benefit over 1,500 people.

“It is a process and registering the affected was done in phases...at least 1525 people await compensation,” he said.

Residents living in 9 sectors neighbouring Akagera Park are waiting for similar compensation.

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