24/06/2007 22:49 - (SA)
Tom de Wet, Die Volksblad
Heilbron - A Bengal tiger has severely mauled an 18-month-old girl's face and she has been admitted to hospital with her father whose hand was injured in the attack.
Apparently, 31-year-old Casper Kruger of Markfontein farm was kneeling in front of the tiger's cage before the attack with Maygan on his lap.
After the attack early on Saturday afternoon Kruger and his daughter, who were on a day trip to the farm, were stabilised by a Heilbron doctor before the emergency service, ER24, took them to Midvaal Hospital in Twee Riviere, Vereeniging.
A spokesperson for ER24 said the child had serious facial injuries and Kruger's hand had been injured.
When Beeld visited the hospital in Vereeniging on Sunday, staff said they had been asked not to reveal any details regarding the injuries to the child.
Albert Bezuidenhout, owner of the farm where Maygan and her father were injured on Saturday, said he was quite satisfied that he had met all regulatory requirements, and could not be held responsible for Kruger and his daughter's injuries. He had received confirmation of this from legal sources.
Upset about incorrect reports
Bezuidenhout was upset about incorrect news reports on various radio stations that the little girl had died, that a leopard had eaten her and that nature conservation requirements had not been met.
He was in Durban for the weekend, but he had been assured by his workers that nothing had gone wrong on their side.
Sworn statements to this effect already had been made to police.
He said a Bengal tiger had been involved, and not a lion or a leopard, as had been reported.
Bezuidenhout said he had already been told by Nature Conservation that they would be visiting his farm for an investigation on Monday.
He said he had had wild animals on the farm for many years, and knew that they always remained dangerous.
That was exactly why he was so strict about the rules and regulations, and why there were so many notice boards on the farm.
A large number of yellow notice boards at Moratuwa Game and Holiday Farm near Heilbron warn visitors about the dangers of the wild animals on the farm.
Parents are warned to be with their children at all times, and to stay at least two metres away from the fences around the animal enclosures.
Since 2005, reports Danél Blaauw, the following attacks involving wild animals have made headlines in South Africa:
June 17 2007: two lions rip Tsepo Gearupi, nine, to shreds apparently after he stuck his arm into their enclosure. The attack took place on a farm in the Boshoek-Bray area in North West;
May 2007: A male cheetah attacks Ingrad Swart, a lion-rights activist from Kroonstad, when she walks into its enclosure. She was slightly injured;
April 25 2007: Luis Titus, 31, an American hunter is attacked during a hunt at the Tam Safari game hunting farm near Cradock. Titus manages to shoot and kill the lion while it is on top of him;
April 22 2007: Dirk Brink, owner of the Krugersdorp Game Farm is partly devoured by his own pride of lions at the Ngonyama Lion Lodge. Brink was found to have had a stroke and fallen from his bakkie;
February 18 2006: 7de Laan soapie star Elma Postma (Dezi) nearly loses her right middle-finger after trying to stroke a tame lion through the wire enclosure during a visit to Shingalana Game Farm near Klerksdorp; and
July 2005: a Bengal tiger sinks his teeth into the leg of 17-year-old Bianca Rosse and grabs her by the neck while she is visiting a lion park near East London.