A game ranger who was shot through the mouth with an arrow pursued his attacker for almost an hour, with the shaft clenched between his teeth. 

William Hofmeyr, 51, was on patrol at Olarro Conservancy, Kenya, when he saw a Maasai warrior sleeping under a tree. As he woke up the man to warn him of a hungry pride of lions nearby, he felt a sharp pain in the side of his mouth where an arrow had hit him. 

The arrowhead sliced through his right cheek and back out of his open mouth, causing it to fill with blood. Unable to call for help on his radio, he ran back to his car and drove after his attacker through the conservancy.

“It was painful, but I spent a lot of time in the military and in the police, so my first instinct was to go after him,’’ Mr Hofmeyr told The Herald newspaper. “I’ve been shot before, it happens.”

Mr Hofmeyr said he fired two warning shots from his rifle, which led his attacker to flee. 

“He came after me and I ran to my car but couldn’t easily open the driver’s side because the arrow shaft was hooking on everything. I had to fire warning shots with my left hand and he ran off.”

Mr Hofmeyr said the arrow was sticking out of the window of the car and kept hitting against the bushes he was driving through.

“To stop the arrow flapping about I had to bite down on the shaft – it may sound like something out of Rambo but I was bloody angry and upset he shot me.”

After chasing his attacker for almost an hour, the ranger lost his tracks and drove to a nearby clinic, where staff were unable to remove the arrow from his mouth. Eventually he removed it himself by pulling the tip out through his mouth followed by the shaft. 

Mr Hofmeyr, from South Africa, is chief ranger at Olarro where there are no fences between the reserve and local communities.

Mr Hofmeyr believes that the attack was a deliberate attempt to assassinate him after he dented poaching gangs’ profits.

“I have no doubt it was an assassination attempt as it is known that there is a contract out on my head and that of my deputy ranger,” he said. We normally patrol together but due to circumstances I was alone and that will not be happening again now we know we have a ‘friend’ somewhere out there.”

The simple arrow, fashioned from a nail hammered flat and joined to a wooden shaft is the sort of weapon fashion by local poachers, according to Mr Hofmeyr. 

“It was a pretty good aim. An inch either side I would have been dead as it would have severed an artery,” Mr Hofmeyr said.

Police said they were investigating but that the man’s tracks were disturbed by elephants.

Mr Hofmeyr said the local Maasai community had come together to find his attacker. 

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