Game ranger survives Black rhino attack

Lawrence Munro PHOTO: Larry Bentley

ZULULAND game ranger Lawrence Munro (41) is reported to be stable and back at home after being tossed and gored by a female Black Rhino while escorting a group of visitors in Malawi’s Liwonde National Park.

The incident resulted in Munro being injured from his foot to his hip after he stepped into the animal’s path to protect the visitors.

He had taken time off from working on the second phase of the ‘500 Elephants’ project, which sees elephants being moved from the overcrowded Liwonde Park to Nkhotakhota National Park.

Munro was carried to the nearest path, while a helicopter was scrambled to take him to hospital in Johannesburg.

The guests were major donors to the African Parks Network, the non-governmental organisation funding the relocation of elephants.

High risk

The group moved into Liwonde’s fenced sanctuary where 14 endangered Black Rhino were in their breeding season.

Rhino tracking is considered a unique experience in Liwonde, with guests given full safety briefings.

The seven guests set out at first light and under strict instructions to keep noise to a minimum.

A witness reports that soon after entering the sanctuary, the scout motioned that there was a female rhino and calf ahead in the thick bush.

‘Within seconds, she had clearly got our scent and set off towards us,’ the witness said.

‘The calf followed her, and looking back, it was clear she was protecting both the calf and her territory.

‘Within a few seconds our quiet magical walk into rhino territory had become absolutely terrifying.

‘The scout signalled to us to retreat as fast as possible and to get behind him in a single line behind a tree.

‘The rhino was thundering towards us with its head down.

‘I never thought a huge animal like that could move at such a speed.’

ALSO READ: Six White Rhinos have been killed in the Hluhluwe- iMfolozi park

Experienced

Munro, who has lifelong experience of wildlife behaviour, made a split-second decision to step out of the line and directly into the enraged animal’s path, intending to divert it away from his companions.

One of the group said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it.

‘He shot forwards holding his rifle up with both hands as if to fend off the rhino, but it came straight at him, its head down, and the rifle broke in about three pieces as he was flung into the air.

‘We saw blood pouring out of a huge gash all the way up his leg and thigh, as far as his hip.

‘He kept saying he was all right and he remained conscious, but it was terrible to see so much blood.’

Munro was picked up by a rescue vehicle and taken to his camp for emergency first aid, before being airlifted.

Previous croc encounter

Munro is no stranger to the dangers of working in wild areas.

In 2010 his then pregnant wife, Kerrin, pulled him from a crocodile’s jaws after it sank its teeth into his feet.

Munro was checking a water pump in the White Umfolozi River in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park when the crocodile attacked.

They were washing the sand off their feet when the crocodile swam into the shallow waters.

Munro told how Kerrin held on to him and battled to stop him from being taken.

‘I knew if I ended up in the water I would die.’

Munro also faced death threats and confrontations with poachers while heading Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Rhino Operations Unit.

Two years ago he was appointed Field Operations Manager for African Parks at Liwonde, teaming up with Prince Harry and others for the 500 Elephants project, said to be one of the world’s toughest wildlife challenges.

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  AUTHOR
Larry Bentley
Journalist / Editor: Agri Eco

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