By Mariska Spoormaker, Die Burger
Port Elizabeth (SA) – A Somerset West man has told how an enraged buffalo attacked him and a friend, who was seriously injured in the attack. The men were part of a group of seven friends, all from Somerset West, who were camping in the Baviaanskloof in the Eastern Cape. “He stormed at us like a huge, black monster. It happened so quickly,” was how Fouché Whitehead described what happened late on Tuesday afternoon [6th September 2011]. He was able to dive out of the way of the enraged buffalo. “Then he focused on Ryno (Magson) and got hold of him.”
After a major rescue operation lasting nearly 10 hours, Magson was admitted to a Port Elizabeth hospital in a critical condition. His wife, Chaniti, said on Wednesday: “When I heard the news of the attack, I was shocked. I immediately thought of Johann Schmidt, also from Somerset West. He was trampled to death by a buffalo in the Bergkwagga National Park last year. I studied with his daughter.” Reliable sources said Magson had suffered internal injuries and had lost a kidney but his wife did not want to talk about it. Magson and Whitehead had been walking about 300 metres outside the Rooihoek campsite in the Baviaanskloof wilderness area when they came across the buffalo. After the attack, Whitehead immediately wanted to run to the campsite for help. “But I saw the buffalo was waiting for me in the bushes. Then I screamed and screamed until they [the other friends] heard me.” When the others arrived in the car, the buffalo bull took off. The seriously injured Magson was taken by bakkie to the campsite. It took Leon Strydom almost two hours to cross 30km of flooded roads and a riverbed to reach the Coleske farm where he could call for help.
“After the events on Tuesday evening I feel very strongly that the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) should urgently consider getting an emergency radio at Rooihoek. It would save at least 90 minutes of driving and could clearly save a life,” said Strydom on Wednesday evening. But he also had a lot of praise for the support of parks officials and Lieutenant Herman Smith, commander of the Baviaanskloof police. “They were wonderful. I thank them.” Shortly after Strydom got help, rangers equipped with radios immediately went to the scene. Sybert Liebenberg, ECPTA acting executive head, also contacted Magson’s wife and kept her updated every 20 minutes throughout the evening. “If he hadn’t done that, I would’ve gone crazy. I can’t thank him enough,” said Magson’s wife. When Liebenberg was able to confirm at 02:00 that Magson would be taken to the Netcare Greenacres hospital, she immediately left Somerset West for Port Elizabeth. “Ryno is a big adventurer and nature lover. I believe he survived because he is so fit,” she said on Wednesday morning. Magson was taken for surgery at about 07:00 on Wednesday morning. Netcare Greenacres Hospital spokesperson Adèle Kennedy said on Wednesday afternoon that his condition was stable.