Elephants trample Spanish man to death in S Africa

Elephants at a game reserve in South Africa. Library photo.
More than a million people visit South Africa's parks each year (stock image) [Getty Images]

A Spanish tourist has been trampled to death by elephants after climbing out of his car to take photos of the herd at a game reserve in South Africa.

The unnamed 43-year-old man was visiting Pilanesberg National Park on Sunday morning with his fiancee and two other people when the attack happened, according to police.

The group had been driving around in their own vehicle before spotting three elephants with three calves, officers said.

Once the man got out of the car and walked towards the herd, the matriarch became "agitated" and charged at him, said Pieter Nel, a spokesman for the local tourism board.

Unable to escape, the man was then trampled on by the rest of the herd.

Local media report that the man was taken to hospital but died of his injuries.

The group of people he was visiting the park with - all residents of Johannesburg - were unharmed, say police.

The force says an investigation is now under way.

South Africa's national parks attract more than a million visitors each year.

Officials say it is crucial that visitors follow safety precautions.

"Tourists are constantly reminded about the importance of staying inside their vehicles when visiting the park, and to keep a good distance between animals and their vehicles and give animals a chance to move freely, and to only get out of vehicles in safely designated areas," said Thami Matshego, chief executive officer of the North West Parks and Tourism Board, speaking to local news outlet Netwerk24.

It was "normal behaviour" for wild elephants to defend their young, said Mr Nel, of the same tourism body.

"Despite warnings from his fellow passengers and occupants from two other vehicles that were at the sighting, he [the deceased] unfortunately did not heed their warnings," he added.

Elephant attacks are not uncommon.

Earlier this year, an 80-year-old woman from the US was killed by an elephant that charged at her safari vehicle in Zambia.

In 2019, a suspected rhino poacher was trampled on by an elephant then eaten by a pride of lions in South Africa's Kruger National Park.


More stories from the BBC:

A woman looking at her mobile phone and the graphic BBC News Africa
[Getty Images/BBC]

Go to BBCAfrica.com for more news from the African continent.

Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

BBC Africa podcasts