Kenya: Why Police in Maragua Want KWS Permission to Shoot at Thousands of Bats

Residents of Maragua town in Murang'a County want the relevant government bodies to get rid of thousands of bats that have invaded a police station.

Besides the high pitched noise associated with bats, they are also known to be carriers of diseases.

For instance, international experts recently concluded that coronavirus very likely jumped to humans from bats via an intermediary animal.

According to Maragua Rural Residents Association Chairman Kimani Njogu, the bats arrived last Tuesday and pitched camp in the police compound.

"These mammals are associated with bad omen. They are also suspected to be rabid and can attack livestock in search of blood to suck," he said.

Maragua Police Boss Cleophas Juma said: "We are not also in the know why these animals chose us to be the host."

He said he was liaising with his seniors to find a solution.

Nuisance

"These things are a nuisance. They are disturbing our station's peace with their cyclic 24-hour unbroken noise. We have attempted recruiting some locals to scare them away by way of screaming at them but they remain largely unmoved. We are seeking permission from our seniors to try and scare them away by firing into the air," he said.

Murang'a South Sub County Police Boss Anthony Keter said the mammals are a nuisance.

"We have requested the Kenya Wildlife Service to give us advice...whether we are allowed to poison them or get creative on how to trap them...we are also in a big dilemma," he said.

Locals suggested lighting a bonfire using tyres at the feet of the trees the mammals are perched on saying they will disperse.

"But we cannot just set about lighting plastic and tyre bonfires in a police station with suspects enclosed in limited ventilated cells. We too cannot dare do that in such a densely populated area without offending environmental laws. Yet, these bats' continued stay in our neighbourhood is unwelcome," Mr Keter said.

A stakeholders meeting has been planned for Tuesday to find a working solution on the menace.

Area MCA Charles Mwangi offered to hire youths to chase the bats away.

"We will first prune the trees they are perched on to deny them the comfort of the leafy branches. Then make sure that they do not pitch camp elsewhere in the town. It is a unique but scary sight of thousands of bats stubbornly remaining stuck in a police station. They are giving us an image of witchcraft," he said.

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