Durban - A heart-breaking “celebration of life” service was held at the weekend for Mike and John Moore, the father and son who died protecting their family from a savage and sustained attack by a black wildebeest.
A shattered Julie and Adele Moore, recounted the attack to the Daily News after the service, which was attended by about 1 000 people on the family farm Mondamin, in Maclear, Eastern Cape, on Saturday.
“Our injuries at this stage are nothing compared to the ache in our hearts,” Julie Moore said.
The weekend of the attack had started with a road trip for the siblings. On Friday, December 13, John, who owned Selborne Park Equestrian Centre in Pretoria, drove to the Eastern Cape, picking up his sister, Julie, in Clarence. Julie is a nurse at the Dihlabeng Regional Hospital.
She had studied BSc Nursing at UFS and is a former pupil of Epworth School, Pietermaritzburg. “We laughed and had so much fun,” Julie said describing her trip with her brother.
That evening the family had a lovely dinner, “laughing and being affectionate”, said Adele. She and Mike had been looking forward to celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary about a week later.
On Saturday morning they had planned to hike the trail from Benerside to Rhodes. It was a track that Julie’s great-grandfather had established. He used to walk it barefoot.
During the hike a black wildebeest suddenly appeared, snorting at them. Julie screamed with fright. Adele took a photograph of the beast but as John lifted his cellphone to take a picture the wildebeest charged at him, gouging his right thigh with its horn and pinning him to the ground.
Julie went for the beast, trying to wrestle it off her brother. Adele and Mike held the horn while trying to free the other horn from John’s leg.
As the wildebeest thrashed around, Julie grabbed a rock and tried to break the hock (lower back leg) of the beast so that it would let go of her brother. She went around to the front to try and hit it on its head, but instead it gouged her leg with its horn.
The other horn had hit a femoral artery in John’s thigh and he was bleeding profusely.
Eventually when his leg was freed from the horn, Adele wrapped her jersey around his thigh. The wildebeest kept attacking.
The panic-stricken family had to keep fighting the beast as it kept thrusting its horns at them and gouging them for about an hour, they said. Adele, who was on the verge of collapse, was the least injured.
The family decided to send her to fetch urgent help as at this stage Mike and John were seriously injured and fighting for their lives. Julie took John’s cellphone and dialled 10111.
The dispatcher on the other end in Port Elizabeth didn’t know how he could assist and was not at all helpful, Julie said.
She then phoned her brother, Dave, who was on holiday with his family in East London.
Dave phoned Robin Turnbull, a farmer in the Rhodes district. In the meantime John and Mike were still wrestling with the enraged wildebeest. Julie managed to take the jersey off John’s leg and tried to blind fold the wildebeest.
As she did so, it thrashed its horns, hitting her on the chin and right eye. She was concussed but managed to crawl on to a koppie. At that stage, John was on top of the wildebeest trying to subdue it.
The last thing her father, Mike, said to Julie was; “what’s going on Jules?” To which she replied, that she was fine and that her mom had gone to seek help.
That was to be their last conversation. Suddenly another wildebeest appeared and Julie prayed it would not see her as she lay face-down.
But it charged Julie, lifting her up with its horns. She screamed and it dropped her on her back. She lay there exposed and terrified, hardly able to breathe.
Julie lay still and heard the wildebeest nearby. Without any warning it charged her again, thrashing her and rolling her around with its horns as she screamed repeatedly.
She lay in a foetal position, pretending to be dead.
Her mother arrived with Turnbull, the local doctor and farmers. The wildebeest charged again and were subsequently shot.
Mike and John’s bodies lay nearby. Julie shielded her mom from looking at the blood-covered bodies with their clothes ragged from being gouged.
The two women were overcome with enormous grief. The doctor took Julie and Adele to the Barkly Hospital to attend to their injuries.
They were then sent by ambulance to Mediclinic in Bloemfontein where Julie underwent surgery to her eye and face.
Turnbull and some of the farmers of the local farm watch stayed with the bodies.
The police were informed but were allegedly tardy in arriving. The farmers were severely traumatised as they sat with the bodies and the two black wildebeest until almost midnight waiting for the police.