Camper airlifted to hospital after being attacked by an NT water buffalo

Published: July 21, 2023

While most grey nomads know there is a long list of wild creatures that can pose a campsite danger, water buffalo are not generally high on that list.

But that could all change after a dramatic incident in the NT’s remote Arnhem Land, which left a man badly injured.

He was then airlifted to the Royal Darwin Hospital on board a CareFlight King Air turbo prop aircraft.

CareFlight said the experienced safari tour guide suffered lacerations and suspected fractures when he was attacked by the buffalo about 170 kilometres north-west of Numbulwar.

“It is believed the buffalo charged at another man who had fallen to the ground, when the tour guide put himself between the buffalo and the man,” it said.

“Local clinic staff picked him up at his remote location and drove for several hours on an unsealed road back to Numbulwar.”

The injured man was then flown out of the Numbulwar airstrip.

The NT News has named the injured man as 73-year-old Gordon Sargeant, who has apparently been frequenting the fishing and camping sites of King Ash Bay for most of the past decade.

He told the newspaper he had often watched the ‘magnificent’ buffalo drinking from the river, but never dreamt of coming eye-to-eye with one.

The man was flown to hospital on a CareFlight King Air turbo prop aircraft. PIC: Care Flight

However, that changed when one of the wild beasts charged him and two friends on Saturday.

“We heard a bit of a noise, it sounded like horses galloping … it was actually a buffalo as we know now,” Mr Sargent said. “It came from behind, straight past us and then he just put his head down and – all in one motion – just charged us … it was bang, bang, bang.”

Mr Sargeant told the NT News that the friend to his right got bruised, and the friend on his left was scratched.

“I got the brunt of it, I was face-to-face with him, he was right against me,” he said. “I just held onto his horns so that, whatever he did with his head, I kept away to keep my stomach away from him, because that’s what they go for.”

Mr Sargeant, who is apparently recovering well after his ordeal, expressed his gratitude to the quick action of CareFlight and the quality treatment of Royal Darwin Hospital … and he said his admiration for the buffalo remained undiminished,

Mr Sargeant told the NT News his camping equipment remained in King Ash Bay and he would collect it in August.

It is estimated that there are around 200,000 feral buffalo roaming the Northern Territory.

  • Have you ever been charged by a wild animal while out camping? Comment below.

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I have had a close call with a Cassowary that came out of the bush at Mareeba.

I was told that they have caused several casualties and deaths.

Where was Mick Dundee when you needed him?

It was a while ago and predated Crocodile Dundee but we were on the track returning from a trip to Jim Jim Falls. The buffalo was standing in the middle of the track facing us. We eased to a stop and the stand off lasted a couple of minutes before he drifted off to one side. We crept passed him and thought we were safe once we put 50 or so metres between him and us when the navigator let out this blood curdling “HE’S COMING”. A quick glance in rear vision confirmed the buffalo was charging after us.. Thankfully the buffalo gave up the chase after about 50 metres. Sure did get the adrenaline pumping!

Haven’t they seen ‘Crocodile Dundee’ ? The simple solution was to stand tall and point two fingers at the eyes of the buffalo and he would stop in his tracks! Too late to try now I guess.

I got chased by a chook at Howard Springs, very nasty experience, but it was good eating,

With unprecedented numbers of tourists going to locations with wild animals and their lack of understanding about the inherent dangers we are going to continue to see attacks, eg given are buffalo, kangaroo, cassowary, crocodile, the city dwellers need to take extra care in dealing with these unknown animals

I was attacked by a large buck kangaroo in Wyangala Waters caravan Park.
Just cleaning up the BBQ plate and heard the roar from behind, turned and here he was coming out of pitch dark onto me.
Only had the spatula in my hand, he grabbed my arm and tried to kick but I danced around the toenails by holding his arm and ear. Roaring the whole time. I eventually twist his arm around the post and he let go and took off.
Scratches both arms and hair pulled but never again trust the “Park pets”.
A small child or lady wouldn’t know what would’ve happened


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