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Spanish tourist trampled to death by herd of elephants in South Africa

A Spanish tourist was crushed to death by a herd of elephants inside South Africa’s Pilanesberg National Park after he got out of his vehicle to take a close-up photo of the animals’ livestock, local police said.

The unidentified European was described by police as a 43-year-old man who visited the game reserve in South Africa’s North West Province on Sunday (7) in a private vehicle, according to provincial police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone.

He was accompanied by his fiancée and two other women, Mokgwabone said in a statement sent to CNN on Wednesday (10).

Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia identified the tourist as Carlos Luna, who, according to the newspaper, was from Zaragoza.

Pilanesberg National Park is the fourth largest park in South Africa and a popular tourist destination. According to its website, the park is also home to over 7,000 animals.

Police said that while they were walking through the park, the man and his passengers “spotted three elephants with three calves,” which “caused the man to stop the vehicle, get out and approach to take photos” before he was attacked and killed by the herd.

The province’s tourism board said in a statement that the Spanish tourist “failed to heed the warnings” of “his fellow travelers and the occupants of two other vehicles that were at the scene” before approaching the elephants, “which were feeding some distance from the road.”

“A female elephant charged at the man, who then ran away (…) (but) unfortunately was unable to escape or dodge the animal as the entire herd was with her, and was soon caught and trampled to death,” the council said.

The council also added that the elephants had left the area and were not threatening anyone.

“Statements from witnesses who observed the entire incident further suggest that the elephant that attacked may have done so to protect her herd and her calves.”

The Spanish newspaper further quoted authorities as saying that “plans are being made to repatriate the tourist’s body.”

Elephant attacks are not uncommon in South Africa. In 2019, a suspected poacher was attacked and killed by an elephant, and his body was eaten by lions in the northeast of Kruger National Park, authorities said at the time.

In the same year, a security guard was similarly crushed to death by an elephant at a mine in the country’s Limpopo province.

Other parts of southern Africa have seen similar tragedies. Three months ago, an elderly American woman was killed after an elephant attacked a vehicle carrying tourists inside Zambia’s largest national park. The North West tourism board said it was “saddened” by the incident in Pilanesberg, urging tourists to “respect the distance between vehicles and animals and … only disembark in specially designated areas.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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