‘Cyclists provoked giraffe’

2013-09-05 00:00

A WORKER at the nature reserve in Pretoria where a giraffe trampled a mountain bike has blamed the cyclists for antagonising the animal.

However, the cyclists denied teasing the giraffe, saying they only took close-up photos and posed in front of the animal while they waited for it to make way on a narrow track.

Louis-John Rex and his friend Ryk van Niekerk met up with two giraffes while cycling on a dirt track in the Groenkloof nature reserve. One giraffe disappeared into the bush, but the bull stood its ground, blocking the way. While the two cyclists waited for it to follow its mate, they took photos and posed, said Van Niekerk.

The giraffe seemed not to like the paparazzi treatment and moved closer to the two men, trampling Rex’s R30 000 mountain bike. Van Niekerk’s video shows the animal calmly following him around a bush.

Hencke Marais of Tshwane Nature Conservation said it seemed to be a rapidly growing trend to film wild animals reacting to humans and put the video on YouTube. “People are taking ever greater risks just to film something funny to put on YouTube.”

He said he has seen three new videos in the past week in which people teased animals to get their reaction on camera.

SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said although they have not seen such a trend, the parks’ officials would ban and/or fine visitors who break the rules.

Phaahle said SANParks had found that people are often not aware of the dangers posed by wild animals.

“Just like humans, animals also have a personal safety zone that people must respect,” Marais said.

“It is totally normal for a giraffe to want to defend its territory and get aggressive if it feels threatened,” Marais said.

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