A suspected poacher was trampled to death by a herd of elephants in the Kruger National Park while allegedly attempting to evade capture on Saturday.
The man succumbed to his injuries. His body was later discovered by rangers.
The SA National Parks (SANParks) reported the death on Sunday and said the suspected poacher and his accomplices were fleeing from them when they ran into a breeding elephant herd.
Kruger National Park spokesperson Isaac Phaahla said field rangers were out on a routine patrol in the Phabeni area when they detected incoming spoors which they followed.
“Three individuals were spotted by the rangers and attempted to run away, but rangers requested backup from the air wing and K9 unit. When they realised they had been spotted, the suspected poachers dropped an axe and a bag with their provisions in an attempt to escape from the rangers,” said Phaahla.
Phaahla said one of the suspects was arrested after assistance from the air wing and K9 units.
“The suspect informed the rangers that the group had run into a herd of elephants and was not sure if his accomplice had managed to escape. The rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled, and who had unfortunately succumbed to his injuries. The third suspect is said to have been injured in the eye but continued to flee,” he said.
Phaahla said a rifle was recovered and the case was referred to police who, together with the pathology team, attended to the scene.
KNP managing executive Gareth Coleman has called on community members living close to the area to assist with information.
“The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all of us. It threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development,” Coleman said.
The search for the third suspect is under way.