Durban - A family tried to save themselves from an out-of-control wildebeest which attacked them while they were hiking, by grabbing its horns.
But the wildebeest, thrashing its head to and fro, killed the father and son, who were trying to save the others. The daughter was severely injured.
Eastern Cape couple Mike and Adele Moore were hiking from their Benerside sheep farm, in the Maclear district, to the Rhodes village when they were attacked on Saturday morning.
Mike and his son John-John, 36, were killed in the attack.
His daughter, Julie, 22, a former pupil at Epworth, in Pietermaritzburg, was seriously injured.
Julie, a nurse at Dihlabeng regional hospital in Bethlehem, Free State, had been visiting her parents in the Maclear district in the Eastern Cape.
A close family friend who lives on a neighbouring farm, who did not want to be named, said she was alerted to the attack by Adele at around midday.
Adele had called her frantically for help.
The family had encountered the wildebeest in an encampment on a neighbouring farm.
They did not know that the farm held wild animals, the friend said.
She described the whole ordeal as “tragic”. The friend said they had done the hike regularly.
“They crossed into Earlstown Farm when a blue wildebeest suddenly attacked John-John.
“The animal was apparently going wild, thrashing its head, and then started attacking them all.”
She said Mike and Julie grabbed one of the wildebeest’s horns. Adele and John-John grabbed the other in an attempt to subdue the animal.
“But it proved too strong. The two women could not hold on any longer.” She said Adele and Julie managed to escape and hid in bushes, which were about knee high.
Julie sustained lacerations to her leg and serious injuries to her eye. Despite her injuries, she managed to grab John-John’s cellphone and called her older brother, Dave.
He stays with her parents. But he was in East London at the time and Julie appealed to him to send medical help.
In the meantime, Adele, who was relatively unhurt, managed to run to a neighbouring farm to get help.
“Two farmers brought Adele back up the mountain in a bakkie. “They found Julie lying on the slope. She was badly hurt,” said the friend. “They loaded her on to the bakkie but it was too late for Mike and John-John.”
She said she was told that a second wildebeest had threatened Julie. The details were sketchy, she said.
The friend said it was unclear why the wildebeest were being kept on the farm and for how long they had been there.
There were no signposts indicating their presence, she said. Julie underwent surgery to her orbital socket on Monday. It was fractured in two places.
“She has been stabilised and is on the mend at Bloemfontein Mediclinic,” said the friend. She said according to a Facebook posting by Julie, her father and brother had laid down their lives for her and her mom.
“She said it was a true sacrifice of love.”
Musa Mntambo, spokesman for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said it was rare for a blue wildebeest to attack but it did happen.
“If the animal is alone it can become aggressive, especially if it’s been kicked out of the group.”
Blue wildebeest grew to 320kg and were very strong, he said.