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Durban - Kruger National Park officials have promised to track down and “discipline” a Pretoria motorist photographed hanging out of a vehicle window within spitting distance of a lion kill in the park earlier this month.
The officials have confirmed that if an animal attacked a human in the park, the animal would be destroyed, regardless of the circumstances.
Seadoone resident Bruce Munro photographed the woman hanging out of a window of a silver Mercedes-Benz, which is registered to a Pretoria company, while on a visit to the park over the festive season.
Munro, who sent the pictures to The Mercury, referred to an incident in December when an elephant was destroyed in the park for charging at and overturning a car in which a couple were travelling. The woman was admitted to the Nelspruit Hospital, where she was treated for serious injuries.
The killing of the elephant resulted in an outcry on social media, with members of the public questioning why the animal had to be destroyed.
The elephant was found to be injured and in musth at the time of the attack, according to park officials.
Africa Eye News Service reported on Tuesday that the park has confirmed the couple may have been too blame. This follows the release of video footage on the internet suggesting that Briton Sarah Brooks and her South African-born fiancé, Jans de Klerk, could have provoked the elephant by following it too closely.
“Looking at the video, they followed the animal too closely and, when it turned, that’s when they should have driven away, but one can never conclude on these matters as we were not in the car,” said a spokesman for SANParks.
When asked what legal action could be taken against the couple, Ike Phaahla of SANParks said people had been banned from the park before. “We still continue to fine those who protrude from cars when they are close to wild animals.”
In an e-mail to The Mercury this week, Munro said: It is not the animals to blame. Look at this incident at Afsaal in the southern sector of the Kruger Park. Lions had killed and eaten a buffalo. The image shows a blatant disregard for regulations. The lady hanging out of the car proceeded to within 3m of a big male lion.”
Munro said the lion could easily have attacked and killed the woman. “Then, like the elephant, the poor lion has to be destroyed. We humans are to blame when we disobey the regulations,” he said.
William Mabasa, spokes-man for the Kruger National Park, said Munro’s images would be sent to their traffic department, which would follow up on the incident. “Our regulations do not allow people to protrude out of their vehicles. Even if she has left the park, we can track her down.”
He confirmed that pictures taken by visitors to the park clearly showing the registration number of vehicles in which transgressions had taken place could be used as evidence for the issuing of fines.
Both Mabasa and a spokesman for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Musa Mntambo, confirmed that if an animal attacked a human in the parks, it would immediately be destroyed, regardless of what provoked the attack.
However, Mntambo said in KZN parks people found to be flouting the regulations would be arrested and charged.
Mabasa said fines for visitors to Kruger who were found to be hanging out of their cars, were between R250 and R1 000.
“Yes, we would like heavier fines, but we do not determine those,” he said.