Kruger National Park. August 2007. A hippo yawns at the Sweni hide near Nwanetsi. Picture: Etienne Rothbart.

A KwaZulu-Natal man was bitten and gored by a hippo at his home in St Lucia, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park said on Friday.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife employee Anthony Swatton underwent an emergency operation after the attack, and was in a serious but stable condition, spokesman Siyabonga Mhlongo said.

Swatton was confronted by a large bull hippo when he went outside on Thursday night to see why his dog was barking.

“Evidently surprised and cornered by the commotion, the animal bit and grabbed Swatton by his lower left leg, flinging him aside, and a tusk pierced his abdomen,” Mhlongo said.

“It then moved off into the garden where it continued grazing as neighbours and doctors were called for assistance.”

Swatton was operated on the same night, and was in intensive care on Friday.

Park authorities watched the hippo late into the night as it entered several other properties and observed no undue aggression or unusual behaviour. It did not seem to be injured.

The park said it would continue to monitor the hippo and then decide whether to relocate it.

“Hippo are a regular feature on St Lucia's streets and gardens and people are warned to bear in mind that they are dangerous, especially if threatened or cornered.” – Sapa