Many hippos still patrol KZN man’s garden after horrific attack
ANTHONY Swatton doesn’t worry about criminals breaking into his home – not with hippos patrolling his garden.
And Swatton knows better than most how dangerous they can be, as he recov- ers from having part of his leg bitten off by a hippo a year ago.
Anyone who knows the streets of St Lucia in KwaZulu- Natal, where he lives, will be aware of the wandering hippo that come into town at night to graze, especially in winter when there is less ground cover near the lake system they rest in by day.
The fact that a hippo was in Swatton’s garden when the two encountered each other last winter was probably why it attacked.
Wildlife authorities said at the time they believed the hippo had acted defensively because it felt trapped.
It grabbed Swatton by the lower leg and, after flinging him aside, pierced his abdomen with its tusk.
Bones were sticking out of the flesh of his left leg and his foot was “hanging on by a sinew”, according to reports at the time.
Despite his horrific injuries, Swatton urged his partner, Julie van Vuuren, to run inside and fetch his cellphone so he could call a doctor and an ambulance.
Shortly after the attack, the hippo moved away and started grazing peacefully “just 5m away”.
It was not injured or behaving in an aggressive manner.
Swatton is back at work as an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife area manager, and is getting used to walking with his prosthetic leg and a walking stick.