Former Miss SA recovers from hippo attack

Former Miss South Africa Diana Tilden-Davis underwent further surgery on Wednesday following an attack by a hippopotamus in the Botswana delta earlier this month.

Tilden-Davis, who won the pageant in 1991, was attacked last Thursday while paddling in the remote northern reaches of the delta, where she and her husband, Chris, run a safari company.

“She was going down a very narrow channel, when she bumped into the hippo,” he said.

“Because it’s a low flood period in the delta and because of the drought, all the browsers are stressed at the moment because there isn’t enough to eat,” he explained.

“She was paddling in a channel she goes through all the time when she encountered him and he must have been very stressed because he attacked Di just above the ankle with his razor-sharp teeth going through her bone and skin.”

Following the attack, she was transported to Johannesburg’s Milpark hospital for treatment to the wound and to control the infection.

“Di is doing fine. She is very positive and enthusiastic and I think seeing her daughter yesterday [Tuesday] for the first time since the attack made her very happy.
We are all just hoping for the best.”

He said that Wednesday’s operation was to control an infection.

Tilden-Davis was also second runner-up in the Miss World contest of the same year and her career has included roles in the horror film Howling IV and the action-adventure movie Captive Rage.

According to writer Doreen Levin, who traced the history of the beauty pageant, she hails from a long line of beauty queens with her grandmother Thelma Fairlie winner of a Marlene Dietrich lookalike national contest organised by the now defunct Sunday Express. Her older sister Janine has also won the Miss South Africa competition, and her sister Leanne has been a finalist.

Meanwhile, instead of a quiet Christmas in the bush, the family will spend the day at Tilden-Davis’s bedside.

“She’s still in intensive care, so we’re just going to relax with her,” Chris said.

Kruger National Park spokesperson Raymond Travers said: “Hippos are very dangerous. More people are killed by hippos than any of the other big five in Africa. They come out of the water at night to go into the bush for food and 90% of the attacks take place as they are walking into their feeding grounds.

“People must be very careful and if they’re in a park they must stay in their car as a human can’t outrun a hippo.”—Sapa

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