Environment

Kruger Park elephant shooting sparks outrage

Sapa

Several members of the public have called on SANParks for an explanation, after the Kruger National Park shot an elephant that attacked tourists.

'The elephant charged at them, attacked the vehicle and flipped it over off the road into the thick bushes,' said the Kruger National Parks spokesperson. (Gallo)

Several people have reacted with outrage at the Kruger National Park's decision to kill an aggressive elephant bull that attacked a couple on Monday.

"It was completely unnecessary to kill the elephant bull that damaged a car and injured a person yesterday in the Kruger Park. SANParks must provide us with the details of who took this decision and on what management level this utter stupid decision was taken," Robbie Botes wrote on the park's Facebook wall on Tuesday. 

Lous-Roger Higham wrote: "There are no credentials necessary to state the elephant should not have to be killed, its (sic) their land, we are the intruders!"

Morne Theron however agreed with the decision. "We do 'visit' their land, however I am sure the correct channels where followed to authorise the 'kill'. We still as visitors require a safe park to visit, and it is sad but the bull would have probably done it again."

A couple was injured when an elephant bull attacked their car near the N'waswitshaka water hole, south of the Phabeni tarred road. "The elephant was walking in front of the couple's vehicle while they were videoing it from behind for a period of time and it suddenly stopped, turned around and rapidly walked towards the vehicle which was stationary at that time," park spokesperson William Mabasa said in a statement.

"The elephant charged at them, attacked the vehicle and flipped it over off the road into the thick bushes." A passing motorist came to their aid.

The Pretoriuskop section ranger was alerted and informed the park's operational commander. A helicopter was dispatched to the scene and airlifted the couple to the Skukuza camp to for medical treatment. After being stabilised, they were flown to the private hospital in Nelspruit. 

Mabasa said the woman was seriously injured when one of the elephant's tusks ripped open the back of her thigh. The male tourist suffered minor injuries.

"The bull elephant was euthanised and upon inspection it was discovered to have been in musth which is probably the reason the aggression levels were higher," Mabasa said. He said the elephant's aggression was also caused by an injury he had suffered.

Nelspruit Medi-Clinic spokesperson Berdine Malan said the woman was in a stable condition. "The patient is stable and recovering in a general ward. By Thursday the doctor will decide when she can be discharged from hospital."

At the time of enquiry, the couple's identity was being withheld until their families had been informed.

SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said the elephant bull had to be put down because it had shown such aggressive behaviour before and posed a safety threat to other tourists.

"The elephant had to be put down. Since it was in its musth phase, the elephant had gotten into a fight with another dominant bull before and was very aggressive," Phaahla said. – Sapa

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