Giraffe tramples baby girl to death, leaves mother fighting for life in unprovoked attack at game park
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: A baby girl was crushed to death and her mother hospitalized in critical condition after a giraffe trampled them in a game park in Hluhluwe.
The mother and daughter duo was visiting the Kuleni Game Park near the port city of Durban on Wednesday afternoon, October 19, when tragedy struck. The one-year-old infant and her 25-year-old mother were left with catastrophic injuries after the raging giraffe suddenly attacked them without provocation. Both were reportedly crushed by the giant creature and subsequently rushed to a nearby hospital. Unfortunately, the baby succumbed to injuries during surgery to save her life, while the mother remains in critical condition at the time of publication.
Park officials believe the giraffe may have been trying to protect her calf as pictures showed the dead animal next to the family's crushed car. It is unclear whether the animal was shot dead during the attack after emergency crews responded to the scene. Reports suggest the mother and daughter were not tourists but a local family staying at a lodge with their father who worked in the wildlife reserve. "The 25-year-old mother and her 16-month-old child were at Kuleni Farm in Hluhluwe when they were trampled by a giraffe," Lieutenant Colonel Nqobile Gwala told News24. "The child was taken to the nearest doctor's room where she died and the mother was rushed to the hospital for medical attention. She is reported to be in critical condition. The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated."
It's worth noting that giraffes grow up to a staggering 19 feet and can weigh over a ton. Besides being the world's tallest mammal, males are known to become aggressive in mating season and females can display aggression when protecting their young. They use their strong legs and necks to whiplash their victims and attacks on humans are often fatal.
Kuleni Game Park -- a former cattle farm turned staycation park -- is home to a collection of luxury bush lodges in the Hluhluwe area of South Africa "geared towards families, friends or couples," per its website. The park promises visitors an extraordinary experience, especially for those who are interested in observing the "diversity of wildlife, flora, and birdlife." The website also boasts that tourists can "enjoy close encounters with animals while walking or cycling the numerous trails." Guests, however, are warned that the animals are wild in nature and therefore unpredictable. Kuleni recommends keeping a safe distance at all times. The park offers turtle tours, boat rides, and scuba diving, as well as interacting with elephants, and crocodile cruises.
Giraffes are known to attack humans when they feel threatened. In 2018, MEAWW reported how British scientist Dr. Katy Williams, 36, and her son Finn, 3, were left critically injured after both were attacked by a female giraffe in South Africa. They were saved from certain death only after the intervention of her husband Dr. Sam Williams, 40, who was out jogging on the wildlife estate where they lived and worked. Sam somehow managed to drive off the agitated giraffe and called the emergency services before his wife and child were airlifted from the Blyde Wildlife Estate in Hoedspruit in Limpopo province. Both remained in comas for a month but eventually made a full recovery. Just a few months earlier, a wildlife cameraman was attacked and killed by a raging giraffe when it battered him with a fatal swipe with its long neck, per The Scottish Sun.