Tourists In Safari Car Get Unexpected Passenger (VIDEO)

A terrified impala being pursued by two cheetahs in Kruger National Park made a last ditch move into the window of a nearby safari car (no, it was not a Chevy Impala). Amazingly, college student Samantha Pittendrigh, 20, caught the entire chase on camera. Here’s what she told the Daily Mail:
My family are so jealous. In all the years my parents have been going to Kruger Park they have never seen anything like it and we do go regularly.

It really is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and we managed to be in the right place at the right time.

I was very happy to witness something like that but I felt a sorry for the cheetah.

There are so many impala, it is not like they will miss one of them.

Although Pittendrigh is lucky to have safely witnessed the ordeal, this is far from the first close encounter tourists have had in the park. Last week, a video surfaced of an elephant shattering a car window, and last month a car was totaled by an agitated elephant. To our knowledge, no tourists (or impalas) have been hurt.

Elephant Shatters Tourists’ Window On African Safari (VIDEO)

While on safari in South Africa, a group of German tourists had a close encounter with an enraged elephant. Already agitated after fighting with another male, the five-ton animal charged at the vehicle. The tourists thought they were safe, but it took only one tap of the elephant’s powerful tusk to shatter the vehicle’s window. The tourists at first seemed shaken, but laughed soon after realizing nobody was hurt. Good thing they left with a video to show to their insurance provider, or they might not be smiling.

This isn’t the first attack at Kruger National Park, either. Earlier this month, a couple visiting from Hong Kong had their car smashed after an elephant encounter. No word on whether or not this was the same elephant, and if so, what beef he has with cars.

[via grindtv.com]

Elephant Attacks Car In South Africa’s Kruger National Park

Damage from an elephant attack in Kruger National ParkMost visitors to South Africa’s Kruger National Park hope that they’ll have a memorable wildlife encounter while exploring the popular game reserve. Earlier this week one couple certainly got their encounter when they were attacked by an elephant, leaving their vehicle completely demolished and landing both of them in the hospital.

The unnamed travelers were said to be of “Chinese origin” with at least one reportedly visiting South Africa from Hong Kong. The couple was reportedly driving through Kruger at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning when they came across an elephant walking in the road. For some unknown reason the elephant became agitated and attacked the vehicle. As you can see in the photo to the right, the animal was able to do quite a bit of damage to the car.

The couple was taken to a nearby hospital where the man is reportedly in critical condition having received multiple rib fractures. The woman that was with him had to be treated for a fractured pelvis as well. Both were later transferred to a hospital in Pretoria.

While visiting Kruger a few years back my travel companions and I came across a rather large and aggressive bull elephant walking down the center of the road. We gave him a wide berth, backing up several times in an attempt to avoid him. He made several moves to charge our vehicle as well and we only got around him when he wandered behind a tree and we were able to gun the engine to get past him. Even then it was quite the close call, as he charged one final time towards the side of our minivan. The image below is one that I shot from inside the vehicle that day.

Kruger is one of the few African national parks that you can actually drive through yourself without the need to hire a safari guide. Of course, I’d always recommend hiring the guide anyway, but if you do self-drive the park, definitely be careful. These two travelers are very lucky to be alive.

A bull elephant inside Kruger National Park

[Photo Credits: Associated Press, Kraig Becker]

Rhino Poachers Killed In South Africa’s Kruger National Park

Rhino poachers seek the animals horn to sell in AsiaAnti-poaching rangers on patrol in South Africa’s Kruger National Park shot and killed three men who were believed to be rhino poachers this past Wednesday. Officials indicated that the rangers were on a routine operation within the park when they came across the men who had reportedly crossed the border from Mozambique. A firefight ensued and the three poachers were fatally wounded.

This incident is only the latest clash between soldiers and poachers in South Africa. As illegal poaching has continued to increase across the country, these types of encounters have become more frequent. Rhino horns remain in high demand for use in traditional medicines throughout Asia and people are increasingly more willing to risk their lives to obtain the valuable commodity.

According to a government report released last week, 188 rhinos have already been killed in South Africa since the start of the year and 135 of those were poached in Kruger alone. The country is home to more than 18,000 white rhinos, which is nearly the entire population that remains in Africa. About 5000 of the more rare black rhino also live in South Africa.

As the value of rhino horns has increased, the level of sophistication shown by poachers has risen as well. Many now employ helicopters to spot the animals from the air and then use high-powered tranquilizer guns to knock them unconscious. With the creature safely asleep, they then land, use a machete or other blade to cut off the horn and are back in the air in a matter of minutes. The speed with which they strike makes it difficult to catch them in the act, which has frustrated South African officials.

With rhino population numbers already dangerously low across Africa, the continued poaching of these animals has become a real concern. If this trend doesn’t change soon, there is a real chance that the creatures could be gone from the continent before the end of the century.

15,000 Crocodiles Escape Farm Into South African River

Nile crocodiles escape South African farmA South African crocodile farm is facing a large problem after 15,000 of the animals escaped from the site and made their way into the nearby Limpopo River. The crocs made their dash for freedom when massive floodwaters forced the farmers to open their gates in an effort to avoid those waters from crushing the walls of the enclosures. Most of the animals made their way to the wild bush along the river, which could serve as the perfect home for the massive predators.

A spokesperson for the farm says that they have managed to capture several thousand of the runaway crocs, but they estimated that about half of the escapees were still at large. The farm staff is rounding them up as quickly as they can, but considering the large number of animals that escaped, it is a challenging job.

The escaped crocs are all Nile crocodiles, the species that is most common in Africa. Capable of growing up to 18 feet in length and weighing as much as 1700 pounds, they are the largest freshwater crocs in the world. They are also known for being voracious predators, attacking nearly any other animals (including humans) that wander into or near the waters where they make their home.

The Limpopo River is one of the great waterways of southern Africa, meandering for more than 1000 miles across the region. The river flows into South Africa‘s northeast corner along the border of its famous Kruger National Park, a remote wilderness that would provide plenty of prey for the escaped crocs. The predators are not unknown to the Limpopo, but until now their numbers have been relatively small. That could change if these animals are not rounded up.

Thanks to our friends at Outside Online for sharing this story.

[Photo Credit: Sarah McCans]