'He can communicate with us by nodding his head': Teen's face RIPPED APART by hyena (WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT)
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Erco Janse van Rensburg was just another teen on a family camping trip in South Africa's Kruger National Park.
When he fell asleep beneath the stars that night, he had no idea a hungry hyena would wake him before dawn by clamping down on his face.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Daily Mail, Erco was saved by his uncle, Johann.
Erco's grandfather, Basie Smalberger, explained what happened that day:
"Erco's uncle and family were sleeping in another tent next door and the hyena was completely silent when he grabbed Erco because it was only when he started pulling him across the ground by the collar of his pyjama [sic] top, that Johann woke up and looked out of his own tent to see what a [sic] thought was a blanket being dragged very fast across the ground.
"Johann went to investigate what was happening and then saw the hyena on top of Erco and managed to chase him away.
"Erco was conscious throughout the attack and then was able to describe how he heard the sound of his own bones being crushed 'like a packet of chips' as the hyena climbed on him.'
Erco had been dragged approximately 30 meters before the hyena sat on him and began to tear at his face.
After his uncle chased off the beast, Erco was immediately taken to the camp's emergency treatment hospital then airlifted to a hospital in Johannesburg, where he underwent several reconstruction operations.
Smalberger told News24 surgeons built up the bones destroyed by the hyena, inserted plates and were able to reconstruct soft tissue in Erco's face.
The plastic surgeon's stitches were barely visible, ensuring minimal scarring.
Erco was unable to speak following the surgery as he had a tube in his airway to help him breath, but he was able to react to questions.
"He can communicate with us by nodding his head," Smalberger reported. "My daughter Cashandra is with him and the whole experience has been as hard on the boy's parents. There is big improvement in his condition. First we took it minute by minute. Now we take it hour by hour."
Local authorities have since been on the hunt for the hyena with a taste for human flesh but spokesman William Mabosa explained it would be difficult to corner the correct animal.
"Our rangers are looking for the hyena, but the problem is that we cannot be sure which animal was responsible for this attack."
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