Tourist Trampled to Death by African Elephants


African elephants remain endangered across the continent, making seeing one of these majestic animals in person an incredible gift. One visitor to a South African wildlife reserve, however, experienced what can happen if you get too close to them. 

According to South Africa’s The Citizen newspaper, a herd of elephants trampled a Spanish tourist to death at Pilanesberg National Park on July 7. It reportedly happened after the unnamed 43-year-old visitor got out of his vehicle and got close to the massive animals to snap some photos. He was quickly rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries. 

The man’s fiancée and two other women were also in the vehicle but weren’t harmed. There were some young elephant calves in the herd, which could explain if the elephants were protective of their young and trying to ward off a perceived threat. 

Piet Nel, acting chief conservation officer for the North West Parks and Tourism Board, reiterated the rules of Pilanesberg National Park for all visitors. He noted that guests are told not to leave their vehicles while driving through the park and are required to sign forms confirming they understand all regulations. “In some cases, people are oblivious to the dangers in the parks,” Nel said, according to The Associated Press. “We must remember that you are entering a wild area.”

An anonymous park employee told The Citizen that just because it’s a contained zone doesn’t mean the animals don’t pose any real danger. 

“Visitors to the park must realize that these are wild animals,” they said. “You cannot simply get out of your vehicle and approach an animal. Selfies or getting closer photo opportunities with an animal that may see you as a threat or invader of their territory can have dire consequences.”

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