An elephant has trampled a suspected poacher to death in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, according to the world-famous park.
Rangers followed tracks and found the mangled body of a man on Oct. 21 during an operation aimed at preventing poaching, Kruger spokesman Isaac Phaahla explained.
The park posted about the operation on social media the next day.
It appears the elephant stomped one poacher to death, while others ran away and all the animals nearby appear to survived the ordeal unharmed, he added.
“Initial investigations suspect that the deceased was killed by an elephant and left behind by his accomplices,” Phaahla explained.
“KNP Management continues to warn poachers that it is dangerous to hunt illegally in the KNP,” he added. “Criminals stand to lose their lives and their freedom.”
Rangers are also cracking down on poachers throughout the park.
Last week, South African National Parks announced the arrest of four rhinoceros poachers in Kruger National Park.
On Oct. 15, members of the Rangers Corp. snagged suspected poachers found sitting under a tree. The suspects tried to run away but were quickly rounded up and arrested. A high-calibre hunting rifle, ammunition and poaching gear was also seized.
The next day, rangers followed gunshot sounds and found two more suspected poachers — one was fatally wounded while the other ran away. But they left behind a bag with two rhino horns plus a weapon and poaching equipment.
Sadly, the body of a male black rhino was also found nearby, which the park said indicated, “the horns were hacked from this particular animal.”
“We are saddened to have lost a rhino over the weekend but are encouraged by the brave actions of our multi-disciplinary anti-poaching teams who successfully took out two rifles from the system and apprehended suspects who are now in custody,” Gareth Coleman, managing executive of the KNP, said in a statement.
“We also appreciate the heavy sentences that the Skukuza Regional Court has been handing down recently, it gives motivation to all those who work tirelessly to arrest the suspects found in the park. The kingpins are still out there and we hope they get arrested soon to face the might of the law for their criminality,” he added.
On Oct. 14, the Skukuza Regional Court sentenced Simon Lubisi to 19 years in custody for killing and dehorning a rhino. He was arrested while in the process of dehorning a rhino.
Between July 28 and September of this year, there have been 22 poachers arrested. That’s an increase of more than 29 per cent compared to the same period in 2020 when 17 were arrested.
And, the park reported a jump of almost 86 per cent in the number of poacher firearms recovered compared to 2020, up to 13 weapons from seven.
“The KNP Management is confident of getting on top of the situation with all the security updates that have been put into commission,” the park said in a news release.