While still nursing his injuries, Ballina man Barrie Slater is now able to see the funny side of being attacked by a hyene in the wilds of Africa.
While still nursing his injuries, Ballina man Barrie Slater is now able to see the funny side of being attacked by a hyene in the wilds of Africa. CATHY ADAMSCATHY ADAMS

Hyena attack victim can now laugh

A SAVAGE hyena attack in Africa has not deterred one Ballina resident from getting straight back into the swing of things.

Barrie Slater was on holiday in Botswana recently when he was attacked by a hyena and had to spend six weeks in hospital.

Mr Slater suffered lacerations to his left arm that required more than 50 stitches and four operations.

Since returning home, Mr Slater has gone back to his job at Mitre 10 in Byron Bay, despite still nursing a swollen hand and thumb.

“I am one of those few people who are happy to get out of bed in the morning and go to work,” the 54-year-old said.

The attack occurred when Mr Slater was camping while on a safari in a game park with his wife and brother.

“I was sitting at the camp fire and it was late at night. I was putting out the fire when suddenly there was a hyena hanging on to my arm,” he said.

“I used a chair to club it off. But then I made the mistake of looking at what it had done to me and it came back and bit my thumb.

“I was making a fair bit of noise, screaming and yelling. The other people in the next camp heard me and drove over and it was the headlights of their car that actually drove the hyena off.

“It is very uncommon for anyone to get attacked by a hyena. They are scavengers so they normally eat things other animals have killed or things that are smaller than them.

“It was never a horrorstory. I just thought of it as a dopey thing to have happened.”

Mr Slater's wife and brother drove for four hours to the nearest medical centre, where they spent four days before flying to a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

“I can't be more thankful for all the people who helped me along the way,” he said.

Mr Slater said he had not been traumatised at all by the attack – instead he preferred to have a laugh about it.

“It gave me time to stop and think when I was lying in hospital, more than anything else,” he said. “I thought about a lot of things and realised what was important. Fishing is very important.”

Mr Slater said that despite the attack and his injuries he would go back to Africa as there were still a ‘few boxes to tick'. “It was the holiday of a lifetime,” he said.



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