Longtime South African hunter Claude Kleynhans was loading a freshly-killed buffalo carcass onto his vehicle when another buffalo surprised him with a deadly charge.
For more than 30 years, this trophy hunter killed the wildlife of South Africa. But now one of the animals he’s long hunted has sent him to his grave.
On May 22, 54-year-old Claude Kleynhans and his hunting party shot and killed an African buffalo near the Levubu River in South Africa’s northern Limpopo Province. But as Kleynhans and his companions prepared to load the carcass onto their vehicle, another buffalo from the same herd charged the hunter and gored him in the groin with its horn. The attack hit his femoral artery, according to local news site the Bosveld Review, killing him almost instantly.
“They were working on the bushes to open the animal and did not see the other buffalo,” Karen Kuhne Kleynhans, the man’s sister-in-law, told the local Afrikaans-language news outlet Maroela Media. “The buffalo struck him and pronged him with its horn in his groin.”
“He loved what he did,” she added. “He died doing what he loved.”
Claude Kleynhans had been hunting big game in South Africa and neighboring countries like Botswana and Zambia for more than three decades. Since 1987, he’s been leading hunts as well as tours and photography trips with his company, Guwela Safaris, based in Hoedspruit near South Africa’s northern border. In addition to hunting, Guwela’s guests could also enjoy the firm’s “excellent accommodations” and “fine cuisine.”
Guwela offered hunting trips during which paying guests could choose from a menu of dozens of animals that they’d like to kill. While Kleynhans stated the South African trophy fees that guests must pay for taking down animals like giraffes ($2,850) and zebras ($1,500), he didn’t disclose the fees for animals like lions, elephants, crocodiles, and African buffalo — a special package for which he promised “100% success.”
Weighing in at as much as 1,300 pounds, the fearsome African buffalo (a.k.a. Cape buffalo) can be dangerously territorial, aggressive, and protective of their herd mates. If they have to fight off a lion (or several), they can handle it. And if they feel they have to kill a human whose gotten too close, they can easily do that too. By some estimates, they’ve killed more hunters than any other species in Africa.
Claude Kleynhans never stood a chance against a surprise attack from one of these creatures. Characterized by local media as an ethical hunter, Kleynhans is survived by his widow and three children.
Despite claims that he hunted ethically (and the fact that the cape buffalo is not endangered), Kleynhans’ legacy quickly came under fire on social media as some commenters claimed that he was a poacher who got what he deserved. While the poacher characterization doesn’t apply in this case, the larger controversy surrounding African big game hunting will surely live on.