A young boy in South Africa is recovering after narrowly surviving an attack by a hyena in Kruger National Park.
Erco Janse van Rensburg, 15, was on a camping trip with his family when he awoke to find a hyena with its jaws around his face. The boy, who was conscious during the attack, described hearing the the sound of his bones being crushed "like a packet of crisps" as the creature dragged him from his tent and prepared to eat him, according to the Daily Mail.
Erco's uncle ended the attack, chasing the animal away after hearing it drag the boy past his own tent. The boy's face was mutilated in the attack, and he is recovering in a Johannesburg hospital after multiple facial reconstructive surgeries.
"Erco’s uncle and family were sleeping in another tent next door, and the hyena was completely silent when he grabbed Erco," said Basie Smalberger, 67, Erco's grandfather. "Because it was only when he started pulling him across the ground by the collar of his pajama top, that [Erco's uncle] Johann woke up and looked out of his own tent to see what a thought was a blanket being dragged very fast across the ground."
The boy's parents and two sisters were asleep in a nearby trailer.
Authorities at the park expressed regret for the attack, and have said the breach in the campsite's fence the hyena entered through has been fixed.
"Our rangers are looking for the hyena, but the problem is that we cannot be sure which animal was responsible for this attack," said William Mabasa, a spokesman for Kruger National Park.
After the incident, other visitors to the park have complained they also saw hyenas dangerously close to campsites.
Facebook user Sue Brown described how she had seen tourists try to get hyenas to come to the fence around a campsite by throwing food over it. She said that because the hyenas knew that sometimes there was food at the fences, they would patrol it every night to look for scraps.
"We complained at the gate that a hyena was in the camp a week ago when we were there! Was on the step of one of the huts, in the bin. It was exactly a week ago!" said visitor Fiona Harding on the park's Facebook page.