In an article titled, “Kenyans eating wild animals as drought worsens,” The Nairobi Chronicle reported on its blog last September that the drought in Kenya was so bad that people were resorting to hunting bush meat in the national parks. This includes monkeys and baboons, which, until a short time ago, were considered taboo. The situation has gotten so bad that in some parts of the country, frightened monkeys that used to roam freely have taken refuge in the bush, far away from humans. In other parts of the country, gangs of half-crazed baboons have banded together thrashing everything in sight, pounding dogs into “mince meat”.
One of the hallmarks of a natural disaster is when humans and animals find themselves in similar predicaments. Extreme conditions brought on by catastrophes are humbling, a reminder how connected everything is. As people scour the countryside for food, Elephants trample scarce farmland into oblivion in a desperate quest to find water. Instances of snake bites have soared as the reptiles leave their parched domains hoping to find sustenance in peoples’ homes.
As crops wither, food prices soar, another blow to an already flagging economy. Livestock, unable to obtain enough food and water, have been dying en masse. If all this weren’t enough to complete a dire situation, add the specter of government corruption: officials who export what remains of agricultural products to nearby countries where they can fetch even higher prices than in their own. Yet it may help to explain why jobless young men “in communities living close to national parks have formed underground syndicates where they sneak into parks to hunt wild animals then sell the meat in villages and towns.”
CNN has branded America the hero of Haiti, but where is Kenya’s hero? Where, for that matter, was Haiti’s hero before the earthquake?