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 on Tuesday.

The 43-year-old man was attacked on Sunday at the Pilanesberg National Park, a tourist magnet about 200 kilometres 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.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2024

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