He had a long neck, Officer

We’ve all heard about South Africa’s crime rate, but in a worrying twist, it seems that even the local wildlife is now getting in on the act:

Pietermaritzburg – Seventy-year-old Schalk Hagen died without telling anyone exactly what happened to him. Now the prime suspect in his death is a giraffe. Hagen had gone for his usual morning walk at Bisley Nature Reserve in March.

The only thing he uttered to his distraught wife on his return from his walk, with blood spurting from a deep head wound, was “I ran away*“. Hagen later died of his injuries.

Prompted by the story of Hagen’s death in The Witness last week, a reader told on Monday how a bull giraffe attacked and chased instructors and patrons around at the Canterbury stables, the same month Hagen was injured. Hagen’s wife, Aletha, added that he and his 16-year-old grand-daughter had previously gone for a walk in the reserve when a giraffe, accompanied by a sibling, charged at them aggressively.

“I suppose it was chasing them away from the group. When he came home wounded that day, the first thing I asked him was if he had been attacked by a giraffe**, but he was unable to reply,” said Aletha.

Hagen had suffered a cracked skull and a deep head wound which received 14 stitches.

And then, as ever in South African news, the amusing side to this tragic tale, which also goes some way to explain why sit-com writers spend so much time scanning our local newspapers in search of novel, yet implausible, ideas.

The story of Hagen’s mysterious injury sparked Ross McCann’s memory of a giraffe attack at the Canterbury stables, a riding school at the Bisley Valley Nature reserve.

“I am of the firm belief that Hagen was attacked by a giraffe.” He said a giraffe left marks on a tree at the stables when it attacked instructors and trainees.

Instructor Francois Hugo said the bull giraffe chased more than five people around the stables. “I was with my colleague and four people, some of whom were training in the sand arena. It charged my colleague who ran into the outside toilet for hiding. But the giraffe stuck its head into the toilet through the hole above the door. It was trying to head-butt him, so I tried to distract it. It immediately came after me as I ran and hid behind the tree. It was a bull giraffe, it smelt horrible, and had big black spots, darker than spots on other giraffes. We were separated just by the tree’s trunk.”

Hugo said the giraffe attacked him using its horns but missed and dug them into the tree trunk. Two marks are still visible***. Hugo admitted he was scared and ran for his life, followed by his trainees, as the giraffe chased after them.

I’m picturing Michael Palin as colleague cowering in outside toilet
South African “comedian” Leon Schuster will have to be the giraffe. It’s the law.

* not fast enough, you didn’t.
** as you would…
*** neatly comparable with the number of horns on your average giraffe.

12 thoughts on “He had a long neck, Officer

  1. Good grief! Death by giraffe. Seems to me that like Australia, the only animals not dangerous in SA are “some of the sheep”.

    P.S. I waved my mouse over my name. Haha. But it could very well have been the other way round. Do I smell?

    Po´s last blog post was: 10 Things I hate about you. (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  2. Wow. What a kiff death. Not.

    I’d rather be cut up with a rusty teaspoon, myself. Unconsciously of course…

    And don’t be so offended, I read you via Google Reader religiously, I just can’t comment to do work restrictions, so I am now making an exeption for you at home 😀

  3. That story was a lot more interesting until I Googled to see where exactly Cantebury Riding School was…..

    My first thoughts, what the heck are giraffes doing at a riding school in England?

    Ordinarylife´s last blog post was: My latest Painting (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  4. I think that this Canterbury is in SA… I laughed out loud but immediately felt guilty because the poor guy died.

    But if this was a theme in a new movie – Jurassic Park but with giraffes – you just wouldn’t believe it!

    I’ve started donating money to charity as part of Blog Action Day by the way!

  5. How can you live in/near the bush and not know just how lethal a giraffe (kick) can be?? I remember going on a horseback safari in the Mabula Game Reserve, and we were warned that while it was nice to be closer to the animals (even in the back of a Landy you don’t get *that* close), you were always told to steer clear of giraffes and those long legs and necks of theirs!!

    Having said that, I still managed to get changed by a gemsbok in on a walking tour in the Valley Lodge nature reserve! All I can say is thank heavens for the fact that to look at you, they need to turn their heads, which means the horns turn away too! That, and trees!

    Helga Hansen´s last blog post was: October 13th – lucky for some? (Note: 6000 miles… is not responsible for the content of external internet sites)

  6. That is such sad news, but one should remember any animal is still a wild animal.

    Spam, spam, spam, spam…

    [This comment has been edited by 6000 miles…]

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