Bites 2 – continuing the list.

Monkeys – we didn’t see a lot of monkey bites. There are of course many different types of monkey. In one place where we lived there were dozens of them. We had a lot of bananas but, against what we expected, they rarely ate them. They loved our guavas. There was a large tree abutting the back of our house. They would steal as many as they thought they could hold, run along the roof ridge and, no doubt accidentally, dropped some as they ran. Those dropped would clatter down the tin roof into the gutters; which was annoying, particularly at night! They would sit on the window looking through the bars, and you wondered who was looking at whom!

Who’s watching who? -At our kitchen window.

Guereza monkeys, brilliant with their black and white colours, leaping from tree to tree were gorgeous to watch. Staying for a break at the one of the Rift Valley lakes we saw lots of those monkeys with ‘painted’ backsides. They were thieves, watching carefully and awaiting the moment, they’d jump down and steal food from your table or even your hand.

Hyenas – people think that these are only scavengers, but they are prepared to attack living animals or humans. They can cause rabies. At night time our workers would not walk alone. There were always at least 2 or preferably more of them and armed with dullahs (heavy sticks) when walking outside..

The two cases which stand out in my mind are of two boys who came in (at separate times) both having been scalped. (photos below the ‘more’ line) The bone on the top of their heads was laid bare over many sq cms. You cannot graft onto bare bone. We had to drill multiple holes through the outer table of the skull, being very careful to not go right through the inner table of bone. The tissue in the centre of the bone (the marrow or medulla) granulated out through these holes and when it had covered the bare bone totally we could skin graft it. Both boys eventually did well even if they were prematurely bald, and needed to wear protection to protect their grafted skin from trauma and the sun. Thin (split) skin grafts don’t become normal skin again.

Wild boars (called kekero there). With their long tusks and bites they could tear skin and do a lot of damage. We had some that visited us daily in our garden. They learned how to turn on the tap in our back yard using their tusks – in order to get a drink. I wouldn’t have minded if they had only thought to turn them off. The locals told us when we arrived at that University that rhinoceroses came every afternoon. They got it wrong. We never saw a rhino but daily had boars visit us.



Crocodiles  are very common in the Rift Valley lakes. Crocodile teeth tear the skin and shatter the bones. We saw a lot of their bites as the people fished from very flimsy balsa wood boats.


Hippopotamuses- I clearly remember a number of hippopotamus bites, all very dramatic. The story of one boy is fascinating. The villagers were short of meat and decided a hippo would be good meat. Half the village got behind him and half on the other side; many with spears. Those at the back began to drive it forward. It began to move. The others were ready. The hippo saw them; didn’t like what he saw; began to charge at full and frightening speed. The villagers fled but this boy slipped and fell; the hippo was on him. The villagers killed the hippo and probably enjoyed the meat. The boy was brought to the hospital. He had a big gash on his chest, exposing but not breaking his ribs and a cut slicing his left buttock in two and the cut extending to the back of the knee. It was deep enough to expose the sciatic nerve, over a long segment, but did not divide the nerve.

We didn’t like getting too near hippos – they charged at you.

Another hippo bite that comes to mind is when a woman was leaning over near the edge of a lake doing her washing. A hippo came up behind her and bit her buttocks from top down laying them as if it they were an open purse. Fortunately  it was mainly skin and fat and was repaired fairly easily.

Dominic Cartier

Some hyena bite medical pictures below the line

hyena bite on scalp
hyena bite
drilling skull
Being drilled as described above in text
grafted hyena bite
The second boy with some split skin graft still to be done.

9 thoughts on “Bites 2 – continuing the list.

  1. In Burma in 1986, I was bitten by a dog that became rabid. It’s a long story and shouldn’t have happened, but i have been ever respectful of unknown (and even known) animals. Maybe one day I’ll write about it on my blog.


  2. What satisfaction you must feel when looking back on your many achievements, and the fact that outcomes for so many people improved their lives immeasurably. I spent a week around the Rift Valley Lakes, and my overwhelming memory is of the huge variety of birds, and a visit to a mission hospital for women. A most humbling experience.


      1. The hospital was in Awassa – I think it was also a day clinic. We were staying at Lake Awassa, and the friends I was travelling with knew one of the catholic nun’s who run the hospital/clinic.

        Liked by 1 person

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