A female giraffe who had recently given birth attacked Hoedspruit resident Katy Williams, 35, and her three-year-old son Finn on Monday late afternoon, a mere 150 metres from their home.
According to a press release that the Hoedspruit Herald received from the property where the incident occurred, Blyde Wildlife Estate, the mother and child were found by the woman’s husband whilst they were still under attack from the animal at approximately 18:00.
The husband, Sam Williams, managed to chase the giraffe away. Katy and Finn were treated on the scene by Hoedspruit Medical Rescue as well as a medical doctor from Hoedspruit, Dr Victor Loftie-Eaton.
The patients were transferred to a local airfield and the medical team worked relentlessly to stabilise mother and son while waiting for two helicopters to arrive from ER24. The helicopters arrived later in the evening and Finn was the first to be airlifted to Busamed Modderfontein Hospital in Johannesburg. The mother then followed shortly in the second helicopter.
An operation was performed on Finn during the early hours of Tuesday morning to release pressure on his brain due to injuries sustained. At the time of going to press, both mother and son were stable but in a critical condition.
Sam Williams has conveyed his gratitude to all emergency personnel, ER24, the medical team of Busamed Modderfontein Hospital, the management team, and residents of Blyde Wildlife Estate as well as the community of Hoedspruit for their assistance and support in this difficult time for him and his family. The estate manager of Blyde Wildlife Estate, Riaan Cilliers, confirmed the incident.
“We are all in shock about this very sad incident and we ensure the family that they are in our prayers,” Cilliers said.
Cilliers confirmed that the giraffe in question has a two-month-old calf, which may have had an influence on her behaviour.
Sam Williams, a resident of the UK, and his wife, originally from the US, are both scientists with post PhD experience in animal-related fields.
Williams confirmed that he understands nature and with the information available at the time of going to press, he regarded the incident as an unfortunate act of nature, where the giraffe saw his wife and son as a threat to her young one.
The family has asked the public and media to kindly respect their privacy during this very difficult time that they are going through.
Any further queries will be handled by their family lawyer Marina Botha from Botha & Lovegrove Attorneys situated in Hoedspruit.