Spanish tourist who got out of car to take photos trampled to death by elephants

A spokesman for the local tourism board says the matriarch of the herd became ‘agitated’ as there were calves present and charged at him

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 10 July 2024 09:35
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A Spanish tourist was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in a national park in South Africa after he stepped out of the vehicle to take photos of the animals.

The 43-year-old tourist, who was not named by officials, was visiting the Pilanesberg National Park on Sunday with three others when the incident took place, the local police said.

Law enforcement authorities said that the tourists spotted a herd of elephants, including some calves during the safari. He stepped out of the vehicle to take pictures of the elephant herd.

Pieter Nel, a spokesman for the local tourism board, told reporters that the matriarch of the herd became “agitated” as there were calves with them and charged at him.

The rest of the herd of elephants also started attacking him.

According to South Africa’s The Citizen, the tourist was then taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

One park visitor was quoted as saying that they saw an ambulance rush past them, presumably to take the injured tourist out of the park.

“Visitors to the park must realise that these are wild animals,” a source told The Citizen.

“You cannot simply get out of your vehicle and approach an animal. Selfies or getting closer photo opportunities with an animal that may see you as a threat or invader of their territory can have dire consequences.”

Thami Matshego, chief executive officer of the North West Parks and Tourism Board, told local news outlet Netwerk24: “Tourists are constantly reminded about the importance of staying inside their vehicles when visiting the park, and to keep a good distance between animals and their vehicles and give animals a chance to move freely, and to only get out of vehicles in safely designated areas.

“Despite warnings from his fellow passengers and occupants from two other vehicles that were at the sighting, he [the deceased] unfortunately did not heed their warnings,” he added.

A 79-year-old tourist was killed and four others were injured in April when an elephant overturned a safari vehicle in Zambia’s Kafue Park. In a similar incident in March, a male elephant had a stand-off with a safari vehicle in Pilanesberg.

On 24 June, a game farm worker in the Free State province was mauled to death by a lioness while installing a gate at a lion enclosure.

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