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IOL news nov 15  elephant1 (30003488)

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An elephant approaches a car from the side. Photo: Vasti Fourie

Johannesburg - Rangers in the Kruger National Park were this week tracking a rhino and an elephant after they attacked and injured tourists in two incidents.

In the first incident, a female German tourist was slightly injured on Tuesday morning when she was charged by a white rhino.

SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla said the tourist was with a group on a morning walk near the Wolhuter Trail camp when they encountered the rhino and her calf.

“The cow charged the group and rangers tried to chase her away,” said Phaahla. The rangers told the tourists to hide. “The rhino must have seen the tourist taking cover behind the rock, and charged.”

The trail rangers, said Phaahla, were forced to open fire and wounded the animal. A doctor from Skukuza was airlifted to the scene and found that the tourist had light injuries to her ankles and ribs.

“She was taken to hospital by ambulance,” said Phaahla.

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The car starts to lift as the elephant attacks from behind. Picture: Vasti Fourie

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Rangers were tracking the rhino to assess the extent of its injuries.

Shortly after the rhino charge, the doctor was airlifted to the park again, after an elephant overturned a car between the Berg en Dal and Skukuza camps.

The elephant charged towards a Chevrolet Aveo hatchback, gored it with one tusk, scooped it up and flipped it over.

This is how visitor Vasti Fourie described what she saw on Monday morning. She and tourists in two other cars were driving on the S25 road in the Kruger National Park in convoy.

Fourie was driving behind the white hatchback and another car was in the front.

She saw the elephant approaching from the side. “It charged towards the side of the car, lifted it up with its tusk, dropped it on its roof and calmly walked away,” she said.

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People stop to help the shocked driver next to the second car to be overturned by the elephant. Photo: Vasti Fourie

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Fourie said the three cars were driving slowly on the road. They stopped when they saw the elephant coming.

“We are supposed to get out of the way of the animals.”

She said the man driving the overturned car froze when he saw the elephant charging towards him.

The same elephant overturned a second car with two passengers, 50m away from where Fourie was driving.

“It all happened so quickly. Afterwards the driver got out of the driving seat and kneeled down in shock. That’s when he realised what just happened,” recalled Fourie.

SA National Parks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said a man was injured during the incident.

A doctor attended to him at the scene before he was taken to a nearby hospital.

Thakhuli said incidents of this nature were rare at the Kruger National Park.

He urged people visiting national parks to be observant at all times because “animals living on national parks are untamed and don’t think like humans”.

Thakhuli advised that when driving through a national park nothing should protrude from a vehicle.

“When you see an animal approaching do not panic and try to move away as fast as you can.

“Elephants can be very dangerous when they feel threatened,” he said.

Rangers were tracking the elephant to see whether it was injured.

shaun.smillie@inl.co.za; nontando.mposo@inl.co.za

The Star, Cape Argus


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