Many hip­pos still patrol KZN man’s gar­den af­ter hor­rific at­tack

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - DUN­CAN GUY

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.

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