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attack of the lone siafu soldier

With M’s sister also visiting Kisumu, S went on a few excursions with the two sisters. They first went to Kakamega Forest, which is home to 7 species of primates, including the rare de Brazza monkey, 330 species of birds, and 400 species of butterflies. Most of this exotic wildlife is hidden under a dark veil of jungle; however, they did hear the sounds of many primates and birds, and walked through throngs of butterflies.

During a short break for water, S felt an intensely painful pinching sensation on the inside of her ankle. When she looked down, she was shocked to see a giant ant burrowing itself into her skin. She reached down to pull it out, but only managed to separate the body from the head. Even though it had just lost its torso and extremities, the head refused to concede defeat and continued to burrow inside S’s ankle. While S howled in pain, M managed to pull out the head, leaving behind an itchy bump and two holes where the mandibles had burrowed in.

A quick google search subsequently revealed that S had fallen victim to a safari ant attack. The largest ants in the world, the siafu, as they are known in Swahili, are also the deadliest. When siafu soldiers band together in large numbers, they prey on small animals, devouring their flesh. And woe to whoever crosses their path when food supplies become short and the siafu leave their anthills. They form columns of 50,000,000 that have been known to asphyxiate and consume humans, typically the young or very infirm. Even though their bite is intensely painful, the Maasai have also found a medicinal use for the safari ant: whenever a Maasai warrior suffers a bad cut, he will use soldier siafu to pinch the wound shut, breaking off their bodies to form natural sutures that hold in place for days.

Safari ants in Kakamega Forest (c/o wiki)

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