A student game ranger, from Scotland, was injured on Wednesday when he was charged by a rhino on a game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The British trainee was apparently on a 10-week training course in northern Zululand, and was being taught field craft when he and his tutors surprised a large black rhino.
According to IPSS Medical Rescue, the rhino – which can run at 55km/hr and weigh as much as 1,400kg – “trampled and gored” the student, before wandering off.
IPSS said the student was training on foot at an unnamed game reserve, learning the behaviour of the Big 5 (rhino, elephant buffalo, lion and leopard). According to some reports, he was training with the Field Guide Association of South Africa.
Paul Herbst of IPSS Medical Rescue said: “The student was stabilised before being transported in a critical condition by road by a KZN Private EMS ambulance for surgery.”
In a full statement IPSS Medical Rescue said: “A Scottish student has been critically injured following an encounter with a black rhino, in Northern Zululand. IPSS Medical Rescue was contacted and informed that the game ranger student had been on foot in a private reserve when he was trampled and gored by the rhino.
“The incident occurred earlier today and prompted a search and rescue operation by IPSS Search and Rescue as well as anti-poaching units in the area. The student was located and preparations for evacuation were initiated.
“The student was stabilized before being transported in a critical condition by road, by KZN Private EMS.”
A medical source said: “He was covered in blood and at first sight we thought he was dead. But he was still breathing and had a pulse…”
Black rhinos, unlike white rhinos, are solitary and territorial and become aggressive if approached. They have been known to attack trees and termite mounds.
Prince Harry – patron of the Rhino Conservation Trust in Botswana – was once dragged 20 feet by a sedated rhino that woke up, while he was hanging onto a securing rope.
The Prince said at the time: “Trying to stop a 3 ton rhino with a rope and a blindfold is not easy.”
In 1988 an enraged rhino, protecting its calf, killed British student Joanna Copley, 21, while she was studying the behavioural patterns of baboons in a Zululand game reserve.
The rhino gored the terrified student, and the impact of the horn broke her back and her neck.
In 2013 a 24-year-old South African woman was seriously injured when she got out of her safari truck to pose in front of rhinos when one then attacked and gored her.
Student Chantal Beyer, 24, suffered serious injuries to her shoulder, lungs and ribs at the Aloe Ridge Hotel and Game Reserve just north of Johannesburg on a game drive,
It was alleged their driver told her to move closer to a rhino for a better photo.
There are believed to be about 20,000 white rhino and 6,000 black rhino left and they are under constant threat night and day by poachers to cut off their horns… which are sold mainly to countries in Asia for use in traditional medicines, or to be used for carvings.
Rhinos are believed to kill as many as 600 people a year in Africa, and are known for attacking cars and safari trucks on occasion.
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