Elephants trample tourist to death after he left fiancée in car to take photos in South Africa

July 10, 2024
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Minnesota tourist is killed on a African safari after deadly elephant attack


Minnesota tourist is killed on a African safari after deadly elephant attack

01:56

Elephants trampled to death a Spanish tourist at a South African wildlife reserve after he left his vehicle and approached a herd to take photographs, police and local government authorities said Tuesday, marking at least the third such fatality on the continent in less than four months.

The 43-year-old man was killed on Sunday at Pilanesberg National Park in North West province, about 110 miles from Johannesburg, police said.

North West province’s Parks and Tourism Board, which manages Pilanesberg, said an adult female elephant 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.”

The elephant herd included young calves. Wildlife experts often warn that elephants are especially protective of their young and can react aggressively to a perceived threat.

Police said the man’s fiancée and two other women, all from Johannesburg, were also in the vehicle and unharmed.

Piet Nel, acting chief conservation officer for the North West Parks and Tourism Board, said guests at Pilanesberg are told they are not allowed to leave their vehicles while driving through the park and must sign forms showing they understand the rules.

“In some cases, people are oblivious to the dangers in the parks,” Nel said. “We must remember that you are entering a wild area.”

African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) walking on red dirt road in the Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, South Africa
African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana) walking on red dirt road in the Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, South Africa, in January 2022.

Arterra/Marica van der Meer/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


Elephant attacks are not uncommon in the region. In 2021 a suspected poacher was killed by elephants in South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park.

Elephants killed two American tourists this year in separate attacks in the southern African nation of Zambia. In June, Juliana Gle Tourneau, 64, of New Mexico, was killed when an elephant that was part of a herd the tourists were watching attacked their vehicle. In April, Gail Mattson, a 79-year-old Minnesotan, was killed in an elephant attack in an incident that was captured in harrowing cellphone video

AFP contributed to this report.

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