Buffalo kills wildlife artist who feared man more than animals

One of Britain's most renowned wildlife artists, who was fearless about getting close to the animals he painted, has been gored to death by a buffalo in Kenya, his family have said.

Simon Combes, 64, was attacked in front of his wife and a friend as they walked through a nature reserve in Kenya's Great Rift Valley, where he had completed some of his finest works.

Witnesses said the three had just walked to a hilltop on open land known as Delemere's Nose on Sunday and were admiring the view when the one-ton buffalo knocked Mr Combes over, stamping and goring him.

His wife, Kat, and friend Mary Wykstra, a cheetah specialist, threw stones and bottles at the creature to scare it off, but to no avail. Mr Combes died before a helicopter could airlift him to hospital.

Mr Combes, who was born in Dorset, spent his childhood on an 800-acre farm in the Great Rift Valley and was in active service in the country's guerrilla war with Somalia. During the war he formed and led Kenya's airborne division, before returning to Britain to raise his children.

He was named artist of the year at the 1994 Pacific Rim Wildlife Art Show and won the Society of Animal Artists' award of Excellence in 1990.

His daughter Cindy, 35, who remained with her mother in Bushley, near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, when her father returned to Kenya seven years ago, said: "It has come as such an awful shock to us all.

"From what we've been told, the buffalo just came out of nowhere."

First aid arrived within an hour from a nearby village but the group then faced another long wait for an air ambulance, she said. "It was too dark for the helicopter to land near the summit of the hill where my father was lying. They decided they would land at the bottom and try to transfer him down and that's when the full extent of his injuries became clear."

Mr Combes was entirely self-taught, before honing his talents in later life under the tutelage of the legendary wildlife artist David Shepherd.

He staged a sell-out exhibition at Nairobi's New Stanley Art Gallery in 1969 and within five years had left the force and set himself up as a full-time artist.

From his home in Gloucestershire, he published two best selling books, African Experience (which has sold more than 30,000 copies) and Great Cats and made television appearances. Speaking in 1996, he said he had no fear of dangerous animals.

He said he had been chased by elephants, put up a tree by a rhino and bitten by a Bengal tiger, but it was mankind that he feared the most.

An awareness of the dangers of his profession was implicit in the names of some of his finest works, which included The Angry One, Tension at Dawn and a celebrated depiction of a buffalo, entitled Menace.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate