Spanish tourist trampled to death by elephants in South Africa

Estimated read time 3 min read

A Spanish tourist has been trampled to death by elephants in a South African national park after apparently trying to take pictures of a breeding herd that included three calves.

The 43-year-old man was killed on Sunday morning at Pilanesberg national park about 130 miles (210km) north-west of Johannesburg.

According to park officials, the man, who was with three friends, climbed out of his vehicle and walked towards the animals to take photos.

“Despite warnings from his fellow passengers, and occupants from two other vehicles that were at the sighting, he unfortunately did not heed their warnings,” the North West province’s parks and tourism board said in a statement.

“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.”

The board said the elephants then moved away without showing any aggression to the occupants of the vehicles.

Pieter Nel, the board’s chief conservation officer, told Agence France-Presse that the matriarch of the herd had attacked after becoming “agitated” by the man’s approach.

He said it was normal for elephants to try to defend their young, adding: “Lots of tourists are oblivious to the dangers and do not realise how dangerous these animals can be.”

The board said the “dangerous and unpredictable” nature of wild animals was always explained to visitors. “Tourists are forever educated on the importance of remaining in the safety of the vehicle, to respect distance between vehicles and animals and allow them first right of passage, and to only alight in specially designated areas,” the statement added.

The board offered its condolences to the dead man’s family and friends, saying it was “very saddened by this tragic incident”.

Elephant attacks are not uncommon in the region. In 2021 a suspected poacher was killed by elephants in Kruger national park.

Last year 50 people were killed and 85 injured by wild animals – mostly elephants – in neighbouring Zimbabwe, according to local authorities.

Spain’s foreign ministry has been contacted for comment. According to reports, the victim was from the city of Zaragoza in the north-eastern Aragón region. The central government’s representative to the region told La Vanguardia that consular staff were travelling to the scene of the accident to take possession of the man’s body and repatriate it.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.


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