Kruger National Park elephant put down after attacking couple

2013-12-31 15:50

An elephant bull has been put down after it attacked a couple in the Kruger National Park, trampling their blue Volkswagen car.

The attack took place at a water hole near Pretoriuskop in the south of the park yesterday, SA National Parks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said today.

“Apparently, the South African couple was following the elephant bull to videotape it. Suddenly, the animal turned on them and pushed their car into the bush for about 400m. According to eyewitnesses, the animal was extremely aggressive and our rangers were alerted of the incident by tourists,” Phaahla said.

A park physician advised the woman to go to the Medi-Clinic Hospital in Nelspruit for observation. The man was unharmed, but in shock.

Phaahla said the couple’s names were being withheld until their families had been informed.

The elephant was put down because it had shown this type of aggressive behaviour before and posed a threat to other tourists.

“The elephant had to be put down. Since it was in its musth phase, the elephant had got into a fight with another dominant bull before and was very aggressive,” Phaahla said.

In the musth phase, an elephant’s elevated testosterone levels causes it to become aggressive, even when unthreatened.

“Musth happens in the breeding season when young bachelor bulls try to enter a breeding herd to mate with a female,” said nature conservationist Bryan Jones of the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre.

“They are often driven away by the dominant male of that herd and may divert their frustration onto something else, sometimes humans.”

Phaahla advised tourists to park at a safe distance from animals.

“We need to respect their space. They are wild animals and behave naturally in the wild. Their behaviour can be very unpredictable and if they feel under threat, they will attack to defend themselves.”

Apart from this incident, Phaahla said the festive season had been uneventful in the park.

Some tourists had been caught getting out of their cars and several speeding fines had been issued.

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