Buffaloes give communities around park sleepless nights

Wednesday October 12 2022

Rwanda Agriculture Board Officials have called on the public to report cases of infected animals to veterinary doctors, and ensure their livestock are vaccinated. PHOTO | Cyril NDEGEYA


Communities living around the Volcanoes National Park in Musanze have raised alarm over increased cases of attacks by buffaloes.

The buffalos, the communities said, have on several occasions killed a number of people and le others injured.

The latest victim is Semivumbi Felicien, a 70-year-old resident of Shingiro sector in Musanze District, who succumbed to injuries of a recent buffalo attack.

The old man was out harvesting hay for his cows when two buffalos from the park attacked him, severely injuring him. He was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after.

The two buffaloes, according to eyewitnesses, were later shot and killed by a RDF soldier to thwart further fatalities. But residents say there was negligence and delayed reaction on the part of security and authorities, that had they responded with urgency, the old man wouldn’t have died.

“We called them as early as 5am when the buffalos had just broken out but no action was taken, they kept waiting for permission from higher authorities which never came, its as if these animals have more value than us the people,”


“It wasn’t until 10am, after the old man had been attacked that one soldier took it upon himself to shoot them,” said one of the residents.

An eyewitness said the soldier shot the buffalo at a point it was about to enter into another homestead to ravage people there.

“After shooting them he was actually verbally attacked by one of his colleagues in security force, a police officer who said he didn’t have permission to kill them,” said a resident who witnessed everything.

Attacks by buffalos and other animals that break out of the park and go into the community has been around for years.

But there seem to be no solution from line authorities even after they kill people, destroy crops and livestock as well as other property.

In May, another buffalo broke out of the park and wreaked havoc Musanze town severely wounding three people, with one of the victims succumbing to the injuries.

In 2019 a 14 year old boy, Phocas Manizabayo, was also attacked and injured by a buffalo in Kinigi sector in Musanze District.

“We call upon RDB to take immediate action by putting a strong fence around the park like what was done in Akagera, this is getting out of hand, we can’t continue losing our people like this,” said an angry resident.

Residents also asked the government to ensure that families that have lost their loved ones and those whose crops and property have been destroyed in buffalo attacks are adequately compensated.

“We need advocacy so we can be helped, RDB as the line institution should take responsibility, for instance as we speak the family of the deceased doesn’t even have money to get the body from hospital, these families should also be adequately compensated and on time” said Ntawujera Jeanclaude, a local leader in Shingiro.

Télesphore Ngoga, a Conservation Analyst at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) told Rwanda Today that a stone wall and a wide trench have been put along the park boundary but some areas remained uncovered or poorly covered and these are the loopholes exploited by the buffalos.

“While putting these physical measures in place, some areas have remained uncovered or poorly covered”

“Those with shallow rocks difficult to build or dig, those without easy access to stones and those with wide talwegs (dry rivers) where construction requires heavier techniques,” he said.

He says they have worked with the local communities who patrol the stone fence and repair where animals can force and break out, and that this has gone along with sustained awareness around the park community.