Wildlife boss recounts brush with buffalo

2015-06-29 11:05


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Durban - iSimangaliso CEO Andrew Zaloumis has recounted his brush with a buffalo earlier this year – an encounter which left him and his wife Tracey seriously wounded.

The two had been walking on the eastern shores of the KwaZulu-Natal wetland park in May when they stumbled upon a buffalo which attacked them.

"The area we were working in is not accessible or open to the public unless on a wilderness trail. We were proceeding with the wind in the right direction, carefully scanning the landscape ahead. We had the misfortune of surprising an old dagga boy, well screened by a cluster of deep green bushes with the morning sun behind it,” he said.

"It happened fast. I saw the blur of buffalo and reacted. I shouted a warning over my left shoulder and knew it was face or flee. Instinctively I turned sideways to limit the damage. The tip of its left horn hooked into the side of my abdomen, cracking ribs and bruising my right kidney.

“It pulled its head up, twisting as the horn came out of my body and its ‘boss’ connected a solid blow to the side of my temple leaving an imprint and deep cut. The impact catapulted me backwards. During all of this my collar bone also broke. As I hit the dirt it crossed my mind that it would be back,” Zaloumis added.

Regained consciousness

"The next thing I knew I had walked up to Tracey and was telling her to stand up as we had a walk to the end and guests to take care of. Apparently I had been unconscious for some minutes. The rest of our party had already come out from behind their places of ‘safety’ and mobilised assistance.

"I am told Tracey started running for help when the buffalo came up behind her, goring her left thigh and tossing her aside. Later we would find out she had fractured her L1 vertebra."

After being attended to by a doctor, the couple was airlifted to a hospital in Empangeni.

“My immediate recalls are a spiritual calmness, ringing and loss of hearing in my right ear from the bang – still not quite right.

“The whole incident comes to me in parts – some of it I have only been able to reconstruct from the accounts of those who were with me during and after the encounter, and other parts are strangely vivid, like the closeness of the buffalo, the smells, the sudden split-second quietness when there was nothing but me and it, and then the sudden return to the world.”

Read more on:    isimangaliso wetland park  |  durban  |  animals

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