A RANGER from the Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock was gored by a rhino during a routine patrol of the park yesterday.
Donovan Antonie, 28, was in a stable condition in the St George’s Hospital in Port Elizabeth last night.
Three other rangers on patrol with Antonie when they surprised the rhino – which was thought to have just given birth – escaped injury.
Antonie was flown from the Cradock Hospital to Nelson Mandela Bay with chest and stomach injuries.
He arrived at the Port Elizabeth Airport with a doctor, assistant nurse and his mother, Rhina Allens, shortly after 7pm and was taken by Gardmed paramedics to St George’s Hospital.
Allens said she had been informed by park officials at about midday yesterday that her son had been gored by a rhino and taken to the Cradock Hospital.
"Details of the attack are still sketchy,” she said last night, visibly shaken.
"I was told that he was attacked by a rhino which had just had a baby.
"He has bruises on his chest and the doctors say the impact could have caused severe internal injuries, so he has been transferred to St George’s for more X-rays and tests. I still don’t know what led to the attack.”
She said Antonie, her eldest son, had always been passionate about working with animals. "I don’t know if the attack will lessen his love of animals.”
Park spokeswoman Megan Taplin said such an attack was rare as rhinos had poor vision and usually only charged when they felt threatened.
"It came out from behind the bush. It was startled and so were the rangers, who were on a routine patrol,” Taplin said. "It seems as though the rhino charged because it was surprised by the rangers.”
The incident was being treated as an accident and no investigation would be conducted, she said.
"We are just thankful that there were no further injuries, as the other rangers managed to get out of the way in time. Rhinos do not usually attack.”
Taplin said the rhino which had charged the rangers would not be euthanased as there was nothing wrong with it – it had simply been surprised by the four men.
Two years ago a Somerset West visitor to the park, Johann Schmidt, 64, was killed when a buffalo bull charged at him shortly after he set out on the Imbila Trail.
His wife, Marie, and the couple’s friends, Sam and Marianne Sieberhagen, were injured but recovered fully.