A tourist narrowly escaped death in an attack by a hippo bull while he and his wife were walking back to their accommodation after dinner in St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal.
The couple were enjoying a stroll at about 9pm on Tuesday when they noticed a bull grazing nearby, Zululand Observer reported.
Despite distancing themselves by crossing to the other side of the road, the hippo suddenly charged and “shook him like a rag doll”.
Fortunately, a motorist driving past noticed the attack and used his vehicle to bump the hippo away.
He then rushed the injured man to Netcare The Bay Hospital in Richards Bay, who was fortunate enough to be discharged the next day with a little more than a sling.
A warning was sent out on Wednesday to B&B establishments and hotels to warn tourists to refrain from walking around town at night.
St Lucia-based wildlife vet Dave Cooper said it was a surprisingly rare event.
“The last time a hippo attack occurred was in 2012 when the victim lost his leg after accidentally stumbling upon a hippo grazing in his garden at night. They are habitual in this area, but people must not take advantage of that.”
“I have often noticed tourists closely following hippos and harassing them with flash photography, so it is actually surprising more incidents have not occurred.”
“People must not become complacent. When visiting, always keep a safe distance and never get ‘in their face’, so to speak,” said Cooper.
– Caxton News Service