Man gored by buffalo fights for life

By Kennedy Mudzuli Time of article published Nov 22, 2014

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Johannesburg -

A week after being gored by a wounded buffalo at the Pafuri River Camp near the Kruger National Park gate, a 66-year-old Gauteng man is still fighting for his life at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital.

The man, who was on an early morning birding walk with a friend, was attacked and flung into the air last Friday by a buffalo. It is believed the buffalo had escaped a hunting incident in the northern part of the Kruger National Park, near South Africa’s border with Zimbawe and Mozambique, four weeks earlier.

The African buffalo – one of the Big Five – can weigh about 800kg and have horns of 1.5m. They are considered unpredictable and one of the continent’s most dangerous animals, especially if cornered or wounded.

William Mabaso, Kruger National Park spokesman, said

the man “did not stand a chance”. “A buffalo is an extremely dangerous animal by nature. A human being can never outrun it nor fight back.”

Mabaso said a lone buffalo was also more dangerous than one which was part of a herd, and should never be approached.

The buffalo – with a smaller one in tow – is believed to have ended up in the campsite from the Madimbo Corridor about 40km away. It is thought to have been involved in a botched hunting incident.

The Pafuri River Camp is situated near the Pafuri Gate, the most northerly entrance to the Kruger National Park, and is separated from the park only by a fence.

Camp co-owner Vaughan van Niekerk said the buffalo had, without provocation, charged the two guests as they were taking photographs of birds in a baobab tree. The men’s wives were still asleep.

One man was severely injured, the other sustained cuts and bruises. Another guest in the campsite heard their screams and rushed to the scene, firing two shots with his pistol which led to the buffalo retreating and disappearing into the bush.

Van Niekerk said the seriously injured man was stabilised at the campsite by staff members before he was transported by a van to a clinic at the Tshikondeni mine within a hour of the incident.

He was later airlifted to the government hospital in Polokwane.

Two hours later, environmental officials managed to locate and put down the buffalo. It had to be put down as it had by then been declared a dangerous animal.

Van Niekerk said the incident came as a huge shock, as nothing of the kind had happened in the 20-year history of the Pafuri River Camp, a peaceful and popular site for birders. “The buffalo was wounded during a botched hunting, and it is believed that thereafter, environmental officials pursued the animal with the intention of putting it down,” he explained.

The river camp co-owner expressed gratitude to those who assisted after the incident. He made special mention of manager Koos Theunissen, staffer Sam Baloyi, as well as doctors at the mine clinic.

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- Pretoria News Weekend

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