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African villagers save hunter from crocodile

2/9/2006

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    HARARE, Zimbabwe — A human chain of villagers pulled a hunter from the jaws of a crocodile in northeastern Zimbabwe, state media reported.

    Letikuku Sidumbu, 32, was attacked while trying to cross the swollen Mubvinzi river in the Goromonzi district, about 25 miles east of Harare, during an early-morning hunting expedition with his uncle.

    As the crocodile clenched it jaws on his right arm, the villagers tugged him from its grip in a struggle that also left him with a broken leg and chest and stomach injuries, Sidumbu told the state Herald newspaper from his hospital bed in Harare.

    "I called out to my uncle to hit the crocodile with an ax," The Herald quoted Sidumbu saying.

    But, he said, commotion by the two men's hunting dogs enraged the crocodile. He heard the voices of fellow villagers arriving from nearby Chitana Mafengu to help.

    The Herald, whose report appeared Monday, did not say when the hunter was attacked.

    In recorded cases last year, crocodiles in Zimbabwe dragged away and ate 13 people — including children — according to the Communal Areas Management Program, a conservation group.

    Sidumbu said he realized the river was infested with crocodiles but, "I had safely crossed it many times before, especially at dawn."

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