16 February 2005

KwaZulu Natal ranger saves colleague from crocodile

A KwaZulu-Natal wildlife ranger, Siphiso Nxumalo, has been recommended for the conservation organisation's highest bravery award for saving a colleague who was attacked by a crocodile in the Black Umfolozi River at the weekend.

Eric Mziwandile Ngcobo, 29, is recovering in hospital in Richards Bay after losing his left hand as a result of the attack.

Craig Reid, conservation manager at Umfolozi, said Ngcobo and Nxumalo were on an anti-poaching patrol when a large crocodile grabbed Ngcobo. Nxumalo fired shots from his R-1 into the water to get the crocodile to release Ngcobo.

After emptying his magazine, Nxumalo then hit the crocodile with his rifle butt.

"His efforts to disturb the reptile worked and it let Ngcobo go and he was able to pull him on to the sandbank," Reid said.

Nxumalo radioed for help and a private helicopter was dispatched from Richards Bay.

The crew located the two along the river and airlifted the badly-injured ranger to the Centenary Game Capture Centre, where Ngcobo was stabilised by paramedics and then taken to hospital.

Ngcobo is said to be in a stable condition.

Both rangers have 10 years' service in the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park.


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