The High Court has Thursday ordered Sun Africa Hotels to pay Sh31.9 million to the family of a Chinese tourist who was killed by a hippo in 2013.
The woman was killed while taking pictures of a mother hippopotamus which was grazing with its calf at the Lake Naivasha Country Club.
Justice Jacqueline Kamau said evidence presented in court by the hotel that Li was taking pictures of the hippo when she was attacked was just hearsay since none of the witnesses saw her.
“The fact that her camera was on standby, if at all, was not proof that she was taking the photo of the hippo and could have taken the photos earlier on standby mode,” said Justice Kamau.
The judge ruled it was quite clear that the hippos had encroached onto the hotel premises and were a major threat to guests.
The hotel told the court that Ms Luo Yi and her colleagues had had dinner and then escorted to their rooms, which face the open lawn area and the lakeside.
The visitors then spotted the hippos grazing around the lawn area and excitedly “rushed out of their rooms armed with cameras to take photos of the calf hippo,” the hotel said.
“Ms Luo moved too close to the calf hippo and suddenly an adult female hippo, presumably the calf’s mother, charged at and attacked her “ostensibly to protect her calf, and thereby inflicted fatal injuries to the deceased.”
But Kenya Wildlife Service said the fatal attack was occasioned by the joint negligence of the deceased and the hotel.
The wildlife agency blames Ms Luo for wandering into an area she ought not have, taking photos of the calf and playing with it.
The agency also blamed the hotel for failing to erect an electric fence to prevent wild animals from accessing its premises and encroaching on a riparian land where hippopotamus graze.