Last updated: 08:11 PM ET, Sat July 04 2015

Leopard Mauls Guide at Popular South Africa Safari Park

Impacting Travel | Michael Isenbek | July 04, 2015

Leopard Mauls Guide at Popular South Africa Safari Park

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

A group of tourists got a scare, and a guide was mauled after a leopard attempted to leap into their vehicle as they drove through the popular Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Daily Mail reported.

The attack occurred around 1 p.m. Thursday local time, and was acknowledged by the park on Twitter with the announcement,

“A field guide working for one of the Open Safari Vehicle companies operating in KNP was attacked by a leopard today during a game drive.”

The field guide was Curtis Plumb, 38, of Nhongo Safari Tours, who according to the Daily Mail suffered deep cuts and bites to his arm, but went into the hospital in stable condition.

Tourist Grant Ford, and his 13-year-old son were witnesses, and the elder Ford also caught the attack on camera. The tourist told the Daily Mail that Plumb stopped the vehicle after spotting the leopard in the bush. “The ranger peered over the side of the vehicle to see where the animal was. It was alongside him,” Ford said. “Without warning or provocation it launched itself into the safari truck and grabbed the ranger's arm. Fortunately he had a bush jacket on.

Gerty Greyling, a paramedic of Lifemed, told Lowvelder that “Plumb apparently started hitting the animal with his other fist,” and added, “another occupant inside Plumb's vehicle threw a bag at the leopard.” 

“What followed was insane,” Ford continued. “The occupants of the safari truck were screaming. Some of the people seated behind the ranger tried to help by beating the animal with their cameras.”

But the animal would not budge. Witnesses told the Daily Mail that a Hyundai minivan proceeded to hit the leopard with their car door. The animal still maintained its grip.

Finally, Plumb went into reverse and shook himself free, but the leopard wasn’t done.

Ford told the Daily Mail that the leopard hurled itself at the hood of the vehicle twice in an “apparent attempt to get at the occupants.” Seeing the ranger with “no alternative than to take it out,” Ford said Plumb drove over the animal’s hind legs, as did the minivan.

Arno Pietersen, another witness who was a bit further away, observed “the driver of the safari truck looked like he was pointing out of his vehicle at a woman behind, telling her to stop leaning out.

“His arm outside the window must have triggered the leopard into action, I was surprised at what happened next.”

But beyond the injuries sustained in the attack, the leopard was in bad shape.

Regarding this incident, a spokesman for South African National Parks told the Daily Mail, “This is a very rare occurrence. The animal was captured and was found to be in a very poor state. 

“It is estimated to be 16 to 17 years old, its fangs were worn out which means it might not have had a meal in a long time. It had TB and was very emaciated. 

“The attack on the OSV truck was perhaps a desperate attempt at getting a meal unfortunately a guide became a victim.”

William Mambasa, general manager of Kruger National Park told the Daily Mail, “We would like to thank the tourist from another vehicle for his quick and decisive action as he saved the guide and tourists' lives.

“It is suspected that the leopard was fighting with another one as its hind was badly injured — the other leopard was spotted in the area watching from a distance.”

The animal was later put down. 

This attack comes a month after an American tourist was killed by a lion that leapt into an open car window at an open-air zoo in Johannesburg.

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