Spanish tourist killed by elephants in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG   -   A Spanish tourist was trampled to death by an elephant after stepping out of his vehicle to take photos of a small breeding herd at a renowned South African park, authorities said Tuesday. The 43-year-old man was attacked on Sunday at the Pilanesberg National Park, a tourist magnet about 200 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, according to park officials. The man, his fiancee and two women were driving their own vehicle within the reserve when they spotted three elephants and three calves, police said. “Reports suggest that the man stopped the vehicle, alighted and went closer to the elephants to take pictures,” police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone said. North West province’s Parks and Tourism Board (NWPTB), which manages Pilanesberg, said an adult female elephant then charged at the man.  “He was unfortunately not able to escape or evade the elephant, which was now joined by the whole herd, and was caught and trampled to death,” it said. “The elephants moved away immediately from the scene without any aggression towards the nearby vehicles and eventually disappeared into the bushes.”  Pieter Nel, NWPTB’s chief conservation officer, said the matriarch of the herd attacked upon becoming “agitated” after seeing the tourist approach. It is normal behaviour for elephants to try to “defend the young ones”, he added. “Lots of tourists are oblivious to the dangers and do not realize how dangerous these animals can be,” he told AFP. Nel and Mokgwabone said the man was from Spain. His companions, all from Johannesburg, were unharmed, the police said, adding they had opened an investigation. Elephant attacks are not uncommon in the region. In 2021 a suspected poacher was killed by elephants in South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park.  And last year 50 people were killed and 85 injured by wild animals -- mostly elephants -- in neighbouring Zimbabwe, according to local authorities. Pilanesberg and other South African parks tell visitors driving through the reserves to keep the windows closed and not to disembark from their vehicles. “The dangerous and unpredictable nature of wild animals are always emphasised on the permits and booklets for sale in Pilanesberg,” NWPTB said, adding it was saddened by the “tragic incident”.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt