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Jumbo attack: 74-year-old turns hero

by Staff reporter
01 Jun 2021 at 08:02hrs | Views
A 74-YEAR-OLD villager from Mabale in Hwange who was attacked by an elephant which fractured his right leg turned hero of his own story after he dragged himself on his buttocks for eight hours until he reached the main road where he got help at around 10PM.

Mr Hlanganani Dube (74) of Simukululwe Village under Chief Dingani-Nelukoba was attacked at 2PM while herding cattle on May 5 in a nearby bush.

The distance from the scene of attack to the main road is unknown.

Mr Dube could neither rise on his feet nor crawl because of the pain on the fractured leg and started pushing himself on his buttocks while using his arms for balance until he reached the Bulawayo-Hwange main road.

Bleeding from the buttocks and palms that had been scrapped raw by the rough terrain and in immense pain from the fractured leg that had been stomped on by an adult elephant whose weight can go up to 6 000kg, Mr Dube flagged down passing cars.

He said there were a number of times that he almost gave up but the thought of his family that would be left with no one to care for them kept him going.

Wildlife experts said Mr Dube was lucky to survive the elephant attack and was even luckier to still be alive after being in the predator-infested forest for eight hours while bleeding.

"Wild animals can pick up the scent of blood from a long distance and instinctively close in on any being that is injured. It is a miracle they did not attack him when he was in the bush for that long, in that state," said Mr Thabani Tshuma, a professional hunter.

Mr Dube used a torch from a phone to wave down vehicles and after several tries, Hwange Safari Lodge general manager Mr Taylor Cameron stopped and rescued him.

The bush is home to wildlife including lions, leopards, hyenas and wild dogs.

Mr Dube is still admitted to Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo where he only underwent surgery last Thursday, over three weeks after his admission.

Hwange Rural District Council (HRDC) is taking care of his medical expenses while Mbalabala Safaris and Hwange Safari Lodge have also been assisting.

Mr Dube's wife, Ms Fumani Shoko, thanked the local authority and other well-wishers for assistance saying the family was going through a difficult period.

"He is better although they delayed operating him which was only done on Thursday. He was herding cattle in the bush when an elephant suddenly emerged from behind him. He tried to flee but ran into another elephant which kicked him and he fell down before it trampled on him, fracturing his leg," she said.

Mr Dube was fortunate because after trampling on him, the elephant, unusually, left.

Usually, a jumbo will trample all over a human being leaving intestines protruding and the skull broken before covering the body with tree branches.

"He could not crawl as the leg was broken while the other was swollen. He started moving on his buttocks from around 2PM until he reached the road at 10PM. He had a small phone and he lit its torch to attract the attention of motorists. Two vehicles drove past without stopping and a third one reversed after driving past for a distance. They took him to Hwange Safari Lodge where nurses attended to him before informing Mr Ephrain Mpofu who alerted us," Ms Shoko said.

She bemoaned prevalence of human-wildlife conflict, saying wild animals were freely roaming around villages in search of food.

She said her minor children were missing school as they have to tend cattle in the absence of their father.

"We are grateful to the council for taking care of all expenses. This is a very difficult moment for the family because he was the breadwinner. Right now, I have no money for transport to be visiting him in hospital.

"Our children are still young and in school hence their education is now being affected because they are the ones herding cattle in the absence of their and they are exposed to the same bush where he was attacked," she lamented.

Chief Dingane-Nelukoba implored Zimparks and Forestry Commission to compensate Mr Dube for the attack and expenses incurred by the family.

He said he will be summoning a meeting with Zimparks officials about human-wildlife conflict once he notifies Hwange District Development Coordinator Mr Simon Muleya.

"We are not happy as a community and the family has to be compensated by Zimparks and Forestry Commission," he said while bemoaning prevalence of human-wildlife conflict.
HRDC chief executive Mr Phindile Ncube said the local authority chipped in as part of its humanitarian work.

"As a local authority we came in on humanitarian grounds. We appreciate that Hwange is pre-dominantly infested by wild animals hence the need for co-existence and where there is such conflict the council will always come in to help. Dube has been operated on and the council is footing medical expenses," said Mr Ncube.

Source - chroncile
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