A suspected poacher was trampled to death by a herd of breeding elephants at South Africa’s Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves and the largest protected area in Africa.
In a statement, the national park said three individuals attempted to escape after they were spotted by field rangers who were on a routine patrol.
One of the suspects was captured and informed the rangers that he and his accomplices had run into a herd of elephants and was not sure if the others managed to escape.
The rangers then discovered one of the suspected poachers “badly trampled” and died from his injuries.
The third suspect, said to have been injured in the eye, continued to flee and is still at large as of this writing.
Recovered along the tracks of the suspects, who were reportedly poaching for rhinos, were their provisions, which include an axe and a rifle.
In 2019, it is estimated that Kruger National Park is home to about 8,000 rhinos, which are one of the most poached animals in the world and also one of the world’s most endangered species. They are poached for their highly prized horn that could reportedly fetch for up to $60,000 (about P3 million) per kilo in the black market. They are usually sold in powdered form and reportedly used as medication and as an aphrodisiac.
In February, the South African environment minister said that poaching of rhinos has seen a decline because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between 2013 and 2017, about 1,000 rhinos were killed each year according to UK-based organization Save the Rhino. But in 2020, some 247 rhinos were killed for their horns, a decline of more than half compared to 2019’s figures of 594 rhinos.
Elephants are also a target of poachers for their ivory tusks and meat. Kruger’s 2019 census says it has less than 20,000 elephant population in the national park.
In 2018 at Kruger National Park, a suspected poacher was trampled on by an elephant and was eaten by a pride of lions.
“The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all of us. It threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much needed resources to fight crime, which could be used for creating jobs and development,” said Kruger National Park managing executive Gareth Coleman in a statement.