A teenage British backpacker has been mauled by a crocodile while travelling with friends on a gap year holiday in southern Africa.
Amelie Osborn-Smith, from Andover, Hampshire, had been enjoying a day of white water rafting in the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls in Zambia when she was attacked by the 10ft beast which put her into a ‘death roll’.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, the 18-year-old’s father said that his daughter had been resting her leg over the side of the boat when the crocodile clamped its jaws around her calf and dragged her under the water.
Brent Osborn-Smith, 60, an Army Major-turned-osteopath, said: ‘The crocodile saw her leg dangling in the water and thought ‘there’s lunch’.
Amelie Osborn-Smith, 18, who is the daughter of a German Baroness, was rafting in the Zambezi River below Victoria Falls, Zambia, when she was attacked by a 10ft crocodile
Amelie (pictured) is in hospital in Zambia where she had life-saving surgery and is awaiting to fly back to the UK for further treatment. She has a badly injured leg, according to her father
Amelie, who attended the £22,000-a-year St Swithun’s School was rafting near Victoria Falls (pictured) in waters that guides had told her were safe when the crocodile attack took place
Amelie, who is backpacking after finishing her A-levels at the £22,000-a-year St Swithun’s School, an all-girls boarding school in Winchester, was only saved by a quick-thinking male friend who punched the animal on the nose until it let go.
She was airlifted to hospital in the capital Lusaka for life-saving surgery – and to try to save her shredded leg.
Mr Osborn-Smith said: ‘She’s a very sensible girl, but on this occasion she was being guided by the rafting company and it was on their advice.
Amelie’s father Brent Osborn-Smith (above) told MailOnline of the horrific croc attack
‘She wasn’t actually swimming but just sitting on the boat and the crocodile saw her leg dangling in the water and thought ‘there’s lunch’.
‘She’s in a pretty bad state at the moment in Zambia and we’re doing our best to try and get her back to have some proper definitive care here, but obviously with a crocodile bite there’s a huge risk of infection and she’s got a very severely damaged leg. It’s quite a distressing situation.
‘She’s been stabilised as best they can but it’s still pretty touch and go and we’re trying to arrange appropriate consultants here lined up.
‘The other issue is that Zambia is now on the Covid red list, so there are various hoops which need to stepped through quite carefully. ‘
Mr Osborn-Smith explained the family’s close link to Africa: ‘My daughter was on a gap year to Zambia and it’s a country we are fairly familiar with – her grandmother has a farm on the Zambezi river, so we have spent a bit of time there.’
Amelie, whose mother Veronika Osborn-Smith is a German Baroness, 52, is recovering in hospital in the Zambian capital, 240 miles from where the attack took place. It is not clear exactly when she was attacked.
While attacks at the falls are rare, they are not unprecedented.
The crocodile (file image) snapped its jaws around Amelie’s leg as it dangled over the boat and dragged her into the water and put her in a ‘death roll’ before a male friend punched the reptile
Osborn-Smith was airlifted 240 miles from Victoria Falls to the capital Lusaka where surgeons performed a life-saving operation and battled to save her leg
In 2018, a Zimbabwean woman canoeing above the falls with her British fiancé had her arm bitten off by a crocodile which attacked their boat.
Zanele Ndlovu, a former national tennis player, had been enjoying a day out with Briton Jamie Fox when the reptile attacked and punctured their raft in April.
Forced into the water, Ms Ndlovu had her left hand bitten and right arm torn off above the elbow in a horrifying attack just days before their wedding.
She was rushed to hospital where medics managed to stitch up the wound and save her life, before getting married in the hospital chapel the following month.
Zanele told The Chronicle newspaper in Zimbabwe at the time: ‘The waters were very calm and we had guides and there were about seven boats in the water when the crocodile just jumped out.
‘It jumped out of the water and bit a chunk of my right arm together with the side of the canoe which started deflating and it all just happened so fast.
‘The crocodile bit me again and pulled me into the water. My husband was thrown out the opposite side so the boat was between the two of us.
‘Jamie swam over to where I was struggling with the crocodile that was trying to pull me to the bottom of the river and grabbed my waist and with the other hand he rained blows down on the crocodile.
‘It all happened so fast we have conflicting accounts of events. The guides saw us battling the crocodile and joined in and the crocodile finally let go.
‘The pain was excruciating but Jamie was by my side and I summoned the strength to fight through it and although he was in shock he calmed me down.’