Hippo savages game guard

SECURITY guard Bongani Makhanya was bitten by a hippopotamus when he disturbed the sleeping animal at Tala Private Game Reserve, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, yesterday.

But the father of two is determined to go back to work as soon as his severely injured arm heals.

“I love my job too much. And I love animals. It was not the hippo’s fault,” he said from his bed at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg.

Makhanya said he was patrolling near the reserve’s Paperbark Lodge shortly before his shift ended at 6am when he was attacked.

“I did not know there was a hippo sleeping behind a tree when I walked by. My footsteps obviously disturbed the animal. It came straight at me and was after my head, but I blocked with my arm, so it bit my arm instead,” he said.

His bloodcurdling screams scared the animal into retreating. “I ran to my transport to get help,” he said.

ER24 spokesman Russel Meiring said Makhanya’s right arm had been severely crushed.

He was scheduled to undergo surgery yesterday afternoon.

“I am so lucky to be alive. Hippos leave nothing behind when they attack. I still cannot believe that I am alive,” he said.

Tala management refused to comment on the incident.

-Nivashni Nair