Giraffe stranded on river island in Kruger Park dies

2019-02-04 11:13
The giraffe stuck on the river island.

The giraffe stuck on the river island. (Facebook/Kruger-2-Kalahari)

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A giraffe which had been stuck on a small island in the middle of the Olifants River in the Kruger National Park since Thursday was found dead on Sunday morning.

The animal had, for the past few days, garnered much interest from tourists and animal enthusiasts on social media.

"SANParks regrets that, against every hope, the stranded giraffe on the Olifants River Bridge was discovered dead this morning. As per our founding principles to let nature take its course, the carcass will be left in the same position to continue the natural process," SANParks tweeted on Sunday.

Speaking to News24 on Monday, SANParks general manager for communications and marketing, Ike Phaahla, said the Kruger Park was saddened by the death of the giraffe.

"We were expecting that it might walk away, but unfortunately it didn't."

The animal got stuck on the island after some heavy rains made the river swell in size.

SANParks had earlier issued a statement saying it was "aware of the giraffe on the island in the Olifants River and is monitoring the situation".

"We do also sincerely appreciate the public's interest in this particular event. As this is a natural occurrence, we are however not intending to intercede in any way at the moment and will give the giraffe every opportunity to walk off the island on its own accord."

Social media was rife with speculation as to how the giraffe had managed to get itself on to the island. According to wildlife photography site Kruger-2-Kalahari, the giraffe "started to cross the river, realised the water was flowing too fast and then turned around, but the water level had increased and there were… crocodiles waiting. If the water level doesn't drop, it's either going to starve to death or get eaten".

Phaahla explained that interventions may only occur when the problem encountered by a particular animal was of a man-made nature, such as snares or when an animal had been shot.

"But if it's stranded on an island, like the giraffe, we don't interfere."

Asked what could have caused the giraffe's death, Phaahla said it would be impossible to determine since the carcass would not be disturbed for a post-mortem.

"By now, scavengers have already started feeding on the carcass, so we can't say what killed it."

SANParks appealed to tourists who were going to view the sight to be mindful of the park rules and not to congest the bridge, so as not to inconvenience other road users.

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