Three rhinos attack rangers

2013-03-15 00:00

TWO rangers at Hluhluwe-Mfolozi Game Reserve are lucky to be alive after they were attacked by a family of three black rhinos yesterday morning.

Zamukulunga Khuzwayo (28) and Sboniso Mthembu (29) were hospitalised after being gored.

They had come across an adult female, a male and a calf while on a routine patrol. Mthembu was seriously injured and it is believed that one of the horns went through his right thigh. Khuzwayo was reportedly gored in his left thigh.

The two, with combined experience of seven years, were on foot patrol in dense bush in the Mbuzane section of Thobothi camp when they encountered the rhinos.

“ … we suspect that as they came through, the rhinos were waiting for them,” said Patrick Sibeko, conservation manager.

Sibeko said the pair managed to call for help. “We suspect that because black rhinos do not like noise, they ran away.

“They told us the rhinos were still in the area, so when we went to fetch them, we were also on the lookout. When we found the two rangers they were bleeding and we performed first-aid.”

He said the rescue team had to use a stretcher to carry the wounded rangers through the dense bush before they could be driven to hospital.

“It is sad for rangers to be injured like that; this also adds more pressure because we are two rangers short.

“These two rangers love nature and they have been here for years. We are praying for their speedy recovery,” said Sibeko.

Musa Mntambo, communications manager at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said they were monitoring the recovery of their colleagues.

He said it was unusual for a group, or crash, of black rhinos to attack. “Rhinos are often individualistic animals. Every time there are two its usually a mother and a baby. If there are three, it is the mother, a baby and another rhino that has been chased off from another group.

“They have bad eyesight, so they rely on smell. In cases where they do not see you and they smell you close, they might attack, trying to protect themselves,” said Mntambo.

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