CNN – Paul Templer, a Zimbabwean tour guide, had found his passion conducting tours in Africa’s bush country. He loved the wildlife, fauna, and flora. However, one day during a canoe safari down the Zambezi River, Templer experienced a horrifying incident that changed his life forever.
On March 9, 1996, Templer’s friend, who was scheduled to lead the safari, fell ill with malaria. Templer agreed to take his place. As they encountered a pod of hippos, an expected sight in the Zambezi, everything seemed normal at first. However, things took a turn for the worse when one of the canoes veered off course.
Suddenly, they heard a loud thud, and one of the canoes was catapulted into the air. The guide in the back of the canoe was thrown into the water, while the clients managed to stay in the canoe. Templer quickly realized that the guide was being swept towards a mama hippo and her calf. He knew he had to act quickly to save his friend.
In a daring move, Templer slapped the water with his paddle to deter the approaching hippo. He paddled closer to his friend, but as they reached out to each other, the water erupted between them. It happened so fast that Templer couldn’t clearly see what was going on.
He soon realized that he was trapped waist-deep inside the hippo’s throat. Hippos are massive creatures with fearsome teeth and enormous jaws. Their bite is significantly stronger than that of a lion, and they are known to be incredibly territorial and aggressive. Templer knew that his chances of survival were slim.
Miraculously, the hippo spat Templer out. He resurfaced, taking a breath of fresh air, only to find that his friend, Evans, was nowhere to be seen. Templer dove back into the water to save him but was once again swallowed by the hippo. This time, his legs were trapped, but his hands were free.
Despite being thrashed around, Templer couldn’t reach his gun due to the chaos. After being spat out a second time by the male hippo, he resurfaced and saw no sign of Evans.
Templer’s ordeal was a terrifying reminder of the aggression and danger hippos pose. While the exact number of human deaths caused by hippos is difficult to determine, it is known that they can be lethal and should be approached with caution.
Despite the traumatic experience, Templer’s love for Africa’s wildlife and nature remains strong. He continues to share his story as a cautionary tale and emphasizes the importance of respecting these powerful creatures.