Rangers Diary

Expectant Mom Saves Vet Husband From Enraged Buffalo

It was Friday June 29, 2007 at about 09h30 when corporal Wilson Baloyi at Mahlangeni ranger post phoned Karien Keet, section ranger, about an apparently sick and lame buffalo in the veld. Wilson and fellow field ranger, Reckson Khosa, was on patrol walking along the Matalakuwa spruit when, close to the Fourmiles firebreak, they came across an emaciated buffalo with an injured front leg.

Karien, accompanied by husband Dewald Keet, KNP State veterinarian, met the field rangers on the road and walked towards the buffalo. "It was about one kilometre further when we saw him the first time. He was about 30 metres away from us and lying down, but facing us," says Karien.They were watching the buffalo, hoping it would stand up. It didn’t. “We wanted it to walk to see if we could determine the extent of its injury,” said Dewald. Karien said they made noises, but “he gave us that typical buffalo 'couldn’t care' look. I then realised that this buffalo bull has a particularly aggressive attitude and is not going to back off.” After some time, and even a few stones hurled at him later, the buffalo stood up and limped away.

Dewald says he could see the animal’s left front leg was severely injured and probably broken. “At that stage I realised that this was not a tuberculosis-infected buffalo and probably a very simple necropsy was waiting as the chances of this animal recovering were extremely limited and he would have to be euthanased”. They followed the buffalo in the dense mopane bush until they came to a clearing where the buffalo had once again stopped about 30 metres away from the group.Dewald moved into the clearing and was still studying the injured leg with his binoculars when the buffalo decided he had had enough of the spectators. He started bellowing and viciously charged towards Dewald, who was slightly separated from the group and not armed.

Dewald yelled frantically at Karien and her team to shoot, but with their sight slightly impaired by the mopane bush this proved easier said than done. “I had my .375 Holland & Holland, a gift from my father, with me, while Wilson and Reckson had their R1 rifles,” says Karien. “At first I could not see the buffalo in the dense mopane shrubs and only when it was about 15 metres from me did I have a clear shot.
It was then that I had the opportunity to give the first shot in the head from a right angle. I could see the buffalo was stunned, but he kept on coming. Wilson was standing on my left and Reckson to my right, with both rangers firing at the animal. They were not hitting any fatal parts and he was still coming. When he saw Wilson he turned away from Dewald and was now facing me.

I shot him in the head and he dropped about five metres from me," recounts Karien. Dewald says when he examined the buffalo he found it had a compound fracture of the shoulder joint and had no chance of recovery. "Afterwards everybody was very relieved and I felt proud that we all handled the situation very well," says Karien, who was seven months pregnant with their first child at the time of the incident.
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