Published On: Tue, Jul 9th, 2024
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Tourist crushed to death by elephants in front of screaming fiancée | World | News

A tourist was horrifically crushed to death in front of his screaming fiancee by an angry herd of elephants after he got out of his car to take photographs in a game reserve.


The four visitors were driving around the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa – close to the world-famous tourist resort Sun City – when they spotted a breeding herd with three young by a lake. Despite warnings from his three fellow passengers to get back into the car the tourist, aged 43, said he wanted to get close-ups of the six elephants and got out and walked towards them.


A huge 3.5 ton adult female cow protecting the young members of the herd was spooked and charged at the man and she was joined by the other two adult bulls who also attacked.

The screaming tourist, who was from Spain, was racing back with his camera to safety through the bush to his friends in the car but was overtaken by the chasing herd who knocked him down and trampled him to death.

All that witnesses said was left was left after the 30 second attack was the tattered blood-soaked clothing of the tourist and the remnants of what was the tourist’s body crushed into the earth. It is understood the dead man was on holiday from Spain with his fiancee and was with two of her South African friends from Johannesburg when the tragedy happened on Sunday morning.


A North-West Parks & Tourism Board spokesman said: “The elephants moved away immediately from the scene without any aggression towards the nearby vehicles and disappeared in the bushes. The guest was a male Spanish citizen who had entered at Bakgatia Gate with three friends and not far from the gate had come across a breeding herd of elephants feeding a distance from the road.


“According to eye witnesses the man decided to alight from the vehicle and approach the elephants on foot taking pictures. Despite warnings from his fellow passengers and occupants from two other vehicles that were at the sighting he unfortunately did not heed the warnings.

“An adult elephant cow charged at the man who then ran from the elephant. 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.


“Park officials were alerted and immediately rushed to the scene to aid the affected persons and secure the scene and assist with the investigation. Statements by witnesses who observed the whole incident further suggest the female elephant that charged and attacked might have done so to protect the herd and young ones.”


Pieter Nel, Acting Chief Conservation Officer for the NW Parks & Tourism Board, said: “The case has been handed over to the police for further investigation.” He further stressed that all tourists are warned not to get out of their cars and that information is printed on their entry tickets which is not just for the safety of the guests but also the animals.


Mr Nel added: “The Board is very saddened by this tragic accident and would like to express their sincere condolences to the deceased’s next of kin and friends.”

A park ranger speaking on condition of anonymity said: “It was a very stupid thing to do and the tourist was literally shouted at to get back in his car but wanted to get photographs of the herd.  He had walked too far away off the road to be able to make it back to the car in time when he charged.  

“His friends were in a hysterical state and needed immediate expert counselling. There was not much left to identify.  

“The victim had been trampled into the ground.  Sadly despite all the warnings people still get out to take photo’s but most are lucky enough to get away with it.


“The herd were not to blame and were acting entirely as normal when they felt a threat to their young.  Indeed they passed right past the car with the three of his friends in when they left.”

North West Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said: “According to information received the man was with his fiancée and two other females in their own vehicle. They allegedly spotted three elephants and three calves. Reports suggest that the man stopped the vehicle, alighted and went closer to the elephants to take pictures. 

“The elephants allegedly attacked and killed him. The victim’s companions were not harmed. The victim is from Spain. A full investigation is underway as to exact circumstances.”

A female elephant can stand over 11 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 4 tons and can run at up to 25mph and the bull elephants can be two tons heavier and up to 13 feet at the shoulder. The Pilanesberg National Park is set in 320 square miles in North West Province 100 miles from Johannesburg inside an ancient volcanic crater and is home to the Big 5 of elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion.


In March a 79-year-old American tourist Gail Mattson was killed at the Kafue National Park in Zambia when the safari vehicle she was in was charged by a bull elephant and overturned. And in South Africa in February and March two game rangers David Kandela, 36, and Philani Sibiya, 33, were killed in separate incident after being trampled to death by elephants while going about their duties.


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