A 15-year-old boy from Centurion was bitten in the face by a hyena in the Kruger National Park on Sunday, a SANParks spokesperson has said.
Erco “Boela” Janse van Rensburg woke up at 04:30 in his tent at the Crocodile Bridge Camp to find a hyena’s jaws around his head.
After biting Erco’s face, the hyena dragged the 15-year-old by the collar of his pyjama top before sitting on him, Netwerk24 reported.
The boy’s grandfather, Basie Smalberger, told Netwerk24 that Erco described the harrowing sound like “chips breaking in a packet.”
When he was found, a nurse applied first aid at the camp, before his parents rushed him to a hospital in Nelspruit. He was then transported by helicopter to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg where he underwent plastic and reconstructive surgery to his mouth and jaw.
The boy’s father said he believed the hyena ran away after the incident.
According to SANParks, camp rangers could not find the animal, but did find a hole in the perimeter fence from which it is believed the hyena could have crawled through.
Eyewitness News described the hole as a “ventilation gap”.
SANParks said it “sincerely regrets the incident” and sympathised with the family.
In 2011, a hyena attacked a 13-year-old boy as he was sleeping in a tent at Sontuli Camp in Imfolozi Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal.
Officials believed the animal was attracted by food at the camp. The teenager was bitten in the face and head and underwent surgery after the incident. The hyena stopped mauling the boy when fellow school pupils in the tent screamed for help.