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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 11:59 GMT
Malawians flee 'terror beast'
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC, Blantyre

Hyena and cub in Tanzania
The beast is suspected to be a hyena

At least three people have been killed and 16 others severely injured by a mysterious wild beast running wild in a mountainous region of Malawi.

The rampaging beast in Dowa district, some 100 km from the capital Lilongwe, has sent at least 4,000 people fleeing four villages to seek refuge at a community hall at the district headquarters.

Parks and Wildlife Officer Leonard Sefu said his department believed the mysterious beast could be a rabid hyena but said it was strange for a hyena to terrorise whole villages without being cornered.

He said his department was examining the maimed people to establish what the animal could be.

Dr Matius Joshua, the Dowa District Health Officer, told me on Wednesday afternoon that two old women and a three-year-old baby died when the beast crushed their skulls and ate their intestines and private parts.

Disfigured

All efforts to shoot and kill the animal have so far failed.

Dr Joshua said the 16 victims admitted into hospital following the latest attacks sustained various appalling injuries with some of them completely maimed and disfigured.

He said some of them lost both legs and hands while two have lost both ears and eyes to the beast.

One woman lost her mouth and nose.

Dowa District Commissioner Charles Kalemba said the district administration is currently feeding the homeless people but more resources are needed as the rural district is unable to cope with the unexpected number of displaced.

In August last year a mystery beast killed five people and maimed over 20 others before game rangers and para-military police managed to gun it down.

Parks and Wildlife officials identified the slain beast as a rabid hyena but residents disputed this, saying hyenas narmally have shorter hind limbs. Residents who came up close to the current beast, like 30-year-old Morgan Amoni currently at Lilongwe Central Hospital looking after his father - one of the two victims refered to the hospital - believes the beast is not natural.

He said he believes it is the same beast that was shot dead last year and has resurrected to exact revenge on the people.




SEE ALSO:
Malawi's killer lion shot dead
24 Feb 03 |  Africa
The lioness and the oryx
07 Jan 02 |  Africa
Country profile: Malawi
29 Jan 03 |  Country profiles


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