MET describes rhino attack on staff as unfortunate

30 Jan 2016 11:10am
OTJIWARONGO, 30 JAN (NAMPA) – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) on Thursday sympathised with a staff member who was injured by a female rhinoceros on Tuesday morning in the Waterberg Plateau National Game Park.
“This incident is unfortunate, and we wish our dear colleague a quick recovery,” the spokesperson of MET, Romeo Muyunda told Nampa on enquiry Thursday afternoon.
Tuli Niipele, who is a 'workhand' at the game park, sustained serious injuries to her thighs, face and back, and was admitted to the Okakarara State Hospital, where she is in a stable condition.
Muyunda said the ministry does not have any danger allowance or compensation arrangements with its rangers, game guards and wardens or any other officials who work closely with wild animals in case of attacks by these animals.
As such, he urged all staff members in the ministry working in national game parks to make use of the benefits provided by the Social Security Commission (SSC) of Namibia when they get injured while on duty.
The MET spokesperson said similar incidents involving officials in his ministry who got injured while on duty by wild animals at various national game parks had occurred in the past, and there was no compensation for those injuries.
He could not provide statistics of officials in his ministry who were injured in the line of duty or give the names of national game parks where such incidents took place.
Niipele told Nampa on Wednesday from her hospital bed that she and two colleagues were on Tuesday morning tracking the same female rhino and its calf so that they could identify them.
“Approximately three to five metres away from us, the rhino saw us first as we approached and came running towards me,” she explained.
Niipele added that her two colleagues, who had guns, quickly climbed a tree, but when she climbed a small dry tree, it could not take her weight and broke, throwing her to the ground.
The rhino then gored her with its horns.
One of her colleagues then broke off a tree branch and threw it on the back of the rhino, and it fled into the thick bushes.
The Waterberg Plateau National Game Park is situated less than 30 kilometres south-west of Okakarara in the Otjozondjupa Region.