Kloof pupil survives hyena bite that left his face torn open

2011-06-14 00:00

WILDLIFE scientists are to investigate the reasons why a spotted hyena forced its way into a tent at the unfenced Sontuli camp in Umfolozi game reserve in the early hours of Sunday and savaged 13-year-old Nicholas Hudson while he lay sleeping.

Hudson, who lives with his family in Kloof, was reportedly in a stable condition in hospital at Richards Bay yesterday where he was due to undergo further surgery yesterday to repair and treat bite wounds to his face and head.

Shane Cuthbertson, the executive principal of Thomas More College where Hudson is a grade seven pupil, said he’d been told that doctors had reported that although the teenager suffered extensive tissue damage, there was no damage to the facial bone structure, the skull or underlying brain tissue. A major concern now is to prevent infection.

Hudson was part of a group of Thomas More senior primary school pupils taking part in an annual sports tour of Zululand by the school’s rugby, hockey and netball teams.

Cuthbertson said that according to his information there were eight boys sleeping in bunk beds in the tent with Hudson when the attack occurred in the early hours of Sunday. Hudson was sleeping in a bottom bunk.

One of the other scholars reported hearing a scratching sound as the hyena tore through a seam at the back of the tent and forced its way inside.

“Apparently he (Hudson) said he suddenly felt a heavy weight on his chest which woke him up... he was bitten in his face.”

Cuthbertson it was a mystery why the hyena acted in this fashion. It was possible that the pupils had eaten braai meat and that the animal had got the scent of the meat. “It went for the mouth and face … fortunately the flesh was not taken off, only pulled open.”

The animal was disturbed by the commotion in the tent and ran off.

A Netcare ambulance took Hudson to the Bay Hospital in Richards Bay accompanied by three staff members. His parents met the group at the hospital.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Maureen Zimu said the circumstances of the attack will be thoroughly investigated.

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