Saved: 'Half-ashamed' hero saves bleating bushbuck

2012-01-21 00:00

Airforce officer Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Hattingh with Betsie the [male] baby bushbuck that he rescued from an island in a flooding river near Hoedspruit this week. In pouring rain, Hattingh dived into the water to rescue the terrified animal. Yesterday he said: ‘It was instinctive. You hear an infant crying and you look for it’, adding: ‘I feel half ashamed, because there were more serious rescues that day’.

He was on his way to work at the Hoedspruit airforce base on Wednesday when his route was blocked because the bridge had washed away following 470 mm rain in 24 hours. At the Mohlabetsi River that borders the Kapama private reserve, the bridge was also flooded, but Hattingh got out to test the water depth. He heard the buck crying and spotted it on an island. Wading chest-deep, he plunged towards the island, and on the second try, managed to grab the shivering animal. “Betsie” has since been released in the care of another reserve.

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