File photo: AP

Johannesburg - An elephant has been poached in the Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park, the first such killing in a decade, the SA National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday.

Head of SANParks's anti-poaching efforts Major General (retired) Johan Jooste said it was believed that the elephant bull was shot for its tusks, which were hacked off and taken by the poachers.

Rangers identified footprints of about four people leading towards Mozambique out of the park.

“Upon further investigations, which involved backtracking, the rangers on patrol came upon the elephant carcass,” Jooste said.

Acting CEO Abe Sibiya said the SANParks had been largely focused on prevention of rhino poaching, but rampant elephant poaching elsewhere in Africa indicated that it was merely a matter of time before South Africa was targeted too.

SANParks had been preparing to fight elephant poaching too.

“We are saddened by this latest incident but are confident that the dedication and efforts of our rangers and our partners in the security sector will eventually prevail over this malady,” Sibiya said.