A suspected poacher was killed by a herd of elephants in South Africa as he and his accomplices fled from rangers. The incident took place on April 18 in Kruger National Park and left one man dead, another seriously injured, and another in handcuffs. South African National Parks announced the news as a stark warning to would-be poachers and in hopes of receiving tips that could lead to the capture of the third suspect.
- Three men were seen during a random patrol. Because of the serious poaching problem at the park, rangers randomly patrol the area to keep an eye out for anyone who might try to harm its animals. It was during one of these patrols that field rangers noticed incoming spoor at the Phabeni area and set off in pursuit of the suspects.
- The men tried to get away. In an effort to evade capture, the men are said to have dropped and left behind an ax and a bag full of provisions. However, the rangers quickly called for backup from the Airwing and K9 units – help that ultimately allowed them to capture and arrest one of the suspects.
- A herd of elephants stopped them in their tracks. The suspect that was caught by rangers revealed that the trio had run into a mating herd of elephants while trying to make their escape and the man had very nearly been trampled. One suspect had indeed been trampled so badly that he died of his injuries, while another suspect is said to have been hurt in his eye but managed to still run away. However, they did recover a rifle which was sent to the forensic team for examination.
- A search is underway for the remaining suspect. The Managing Executive of the KNP, Gareth Coleman, said in a statement: “We are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our Rangers Corp, our aviators and the K9 unit. It is unfortunate that a life was unnecessarily lost. Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able to help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP.” He added: “The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development.”