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Media Release: Woman injured by buffalo on Mountain Zebra National Park Hiking Trail

20 October 2008

In an unusual incident, a woman was injured by a buffalo on the unguided Idwala Hiking Trail in Mountain Zebra National Park on Saturday morning, 18 October 2008.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mrs. Els and her family during this time of recovery”, said Park Manager, Lesley Ann Meyer.

Mrs. Marna Els from Graaff-Reinet was walking with her husband on the 10-kilometre long hiking trail on Saturday morning at about 09:00 when she was surprised by a buffalo bull which ran towards the couple. The buffalo ran out of the nearby bush and onto the hiking trail, pushing Mrs. Els to the side before running off into the bush. Mrs. Els sustained five broken ribs, a broken collar-bone and grazes from the impact. The incident occurred about four kilometres from the start of the trail.

Mr. Els then summoned help from the staff at the Park who dispatched Park rangers to the scene of the incident and called an ambulance from the nearby town of Cradock.

Injured woman's condition stable

Park rangers transported the ambulance personnel onto the hiking trail so that they could stabilize Mrs. Els and then transport her back to the ambulance with the rangers’ 4x4 vehicle. Mrs. Els was later taken to a hospital in Port Elizabeth where she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Her condition is now stable.

This is the first incident of an injury to a person by an animal that has occurred in the Mountain Zebra National Park, which was proclaimed in 1937.

“We urge visitors on the hiking trails to continue to remain vigilant at all times to ensure that they are aware of any potentially dangerous animals such as buffalo, black rhino and cheetah,” said Meyer.

The Park offers both the 10-kilometre and a three-day 25-km hiking trail for visitors. Both routes traverse sections of the Park where wildlife may be encountered and visitors are informed about the appropriate manner in which to react to any encounters.

Issued by:

South African National Parks


Megan Taplin, Regional Communications Manager, Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, Karoo, Mountain Zebra National Parks, tel: 083 6508649 or (042) 233 8609