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Sleeping Teen Mauled By Hyena Loses Eye

Jun 30, 2016 02:18 PM EDT

A 15-year-old boy was enjoying his good night sleep when he was suddenly awakened to experience the worst nightmare anyone would never wish for.

Erco "Boela" Janse van Rensburg was camping at Kruger National Park in South Africa when the wild animal attacked him. The hyena ferociously mauled his head and dragged him about 98 feet from his tent before sitting on top of him.

Fortunately, one of the campers is also a nurse. The boy was quickly given first aid when he was found before his family rushed him to a medical center in Nelspruit.

According to News24, the horrific incident inflicted the boy extensive injuries to his eyes and the bones and soft tissue in his face.

He was taken to the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg where he underwent plastic and reconstructive surgery of his mouth and jaw under the supervision of five surgeons for eight hours.

"Sadly it appears that he has lost one of his eyes," a spokesperson for the family from a prayer support group told The Citizen. "He will need several more surgical procedures to repair the damage done. He is also receiving preventative treatment for rabies."

The teenager is now recovering at the hospital.

William Mabasa, the spokesperson of South African National Parks (SANParks) which runs Kruger National Park told AFP that the boy went to camping with his family but he was alone in a separate compartment of their tent when the hyena sunk its teeth in his head.

The hyena ran away after screams from the frightened family members filled the air.

In an interview with News24, the boy's grandfather, Basie Smalberger, said Erco described the harrowing sound like "chips breaking in a packet."

SANParks already issued a statement and said rangers already searched for the hyena but was unable to locate it. They also shared they have found a hole under the parameter fence, which was probably used by the hyena to cross over the camp site.

Animal behaviorist Kevin Richardson told Times Live of South Africa that hyenas "are notorious for frequenting the rest campsites because people feed them," which is probably why the wild animal was out and was looking for food.

Hyenas are one of the most dangerous carnivorous animals on the planet. According to Planet Deadly, hyenas kill around 95 percent of the food that they eat. Their jaws are capable of crushing elephant bones. A pack of hyenas, which is called a "cackle," is able to take down one big hippopotamus.

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