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Escaped leopard mauls man near S. Africa national park

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File picture shows a leopard caught in a spotlight during a game drive at Kruger National Park in South Africa on January 19, 2009AFP/File

A leopard that escaped South Africa's Kruger National Park mauled a local man, putting him in hospital, a spokesman said.

The animal got out through a fence and attacked a man from a nearby village Tuesday, South African National Parks spokesman Rey Thakhuli said.

"He was mauled by the leopard," Thakhuli told AFP, adding the man was "stable" and was "fortunate to be alive".

The animal had since returned to the park and rangers were checking it did not escape again, he said.

In a separate incident, one of the park's environmental monitors fell and hit a rock while fleeing from an attacking buffalo. Thakhuli said he was also recovering well in hospital.

Around three million people live in towns and villages around the country's flagship safari destination, which at two million hectares (about five million acres) is roughly the size of Israel.