The following is a media report from last week, Issued by the Oromia Police Bureau. It’s a bit of a clumsy translation from the original in Amharic but the general message is clear:
The Oromia Police Bureau reports people and hyenas engaged in escalating violence.
In the Eastern Hararge town of Maalka Raafuu, several hyenas broke into a barn and attacked the goats that were inside. The owner of the goats, in an act of retaliation applied poison to one of the injured goats and left the animal out for the hyenas to eat. This led to the deaths of ten hyenas and subsequently, the surviving hyenas of the group attacked children in the village, killing two and injuring two. This was followed by a second attack where the vindictive hyenas came to the village again and attacked five more children, biting their necks and attempting to drag the victims to the forest. Witnesses threw things at the hyenas and chased the hyenas off, saving the children. The third time that the hyenas came to the village to attack, the people were ready and waiting for them and managed to kill one hyena with a muncha (a sickle-like axe, used by farmers, see below).
The attacks by the hyenas occurred in the daytime which is highly unusual; they came in the morning and afternoon wanting to exact revenge. Later they returned to the town and again attacked two children, trying to kill them. When they went to attack, the townspeople threw things attempting to kill the hyenas and during the fight some people were injured and had to be taken to hospital.
Yesterday the townspeople were staying indoors and trying to protect their children. The parents were telling their children that if they went out they’d be eaten by hyenas and some were escorting their children to school and back home. Others were not sending their children at all. The police said that the school would be closed for some time until the trouble subsided.
The disturbed Woreda leader (mayor) was so confused he did not know how to respond and called an urgent meeting with the people and government officers who were responsible for these kinds of situations (police, elders, religious leaders). After the meeting they decided that they had to destroy the hyenas’ dens that were near to the village and being used as strategic bases for launching attacks on the village. The hyenas’ usual homes were further away in the hills. Rather than killing the hyenas themselves, it was hoped that this would defuse the situation. Additionally the families would have to watch their children carefully. Some people believed the reason for the war was that the farmer poisoned the goat carcass and that he should be apprehended and taken to the police, but the farmer had gone into hiding and was being sought by the police for questioning. Additionally, the people of the village are looking for the farmer.
The elders and religious leaders commented that traditionally there must be a solution to conflict that involves a treaty so they suggested sending a listener (person who can understand hyena language) to arrange such a treaty. The police responded that, with everything that was going on, there was no time for sending delegations to the hyenas; that action had be taken immediately because children were being attacked.