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.
Two poachers illegally hunting inside Zimbabwe’s Charara National Park had the tables unexpectedly turned on them recently. The two men slipped into the reserve unnoticed where they had hoped to kill an elephant and harvest its ivory tusks for sale on the black market in Asia. But their excursion ended up going horribly wrong leaving one of the men in the hands of the authorities and the other poacher trampled to death by the very creature he was hunting.
Solomon Manjoro, along with his partner Noluck Tafuruka, allegedly entered the park a few weeks back in hopes that they could bag an elephant, grab its tusks and get out before anyone knew they were there. Apparently Manjoro manged to wound one of the big pachyderms but failed to deliver a killing shot. The enraged animal then charged the men, knocking Manjoro to the ground and trampling him to death. His body was discovered some time later.
Tafuruka managed to escape the wrath of the animal and ran off into the park. He was later detained by authorities who discovered him wandering the premises with an illegal firearm. His capture led to the arrest of a third man living in the capital city of Harare, although what his role in this story is remains a mystery.
Considering the number of elephants that are being slaughtered on a daily basis in Africa, the story of one poacher getting killed by the animal he is hunting hardly seems like justice. Still, I couldn’t muster a single ounce of sympathy for the guy. I’m just sad that his friend “Noluck” managed to get away relatively unscathed.
The Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute counted 109,000 elephants in 2009. In 2012, the number had sunk below 70,000. This is due to a surge in poaching. Elephant ivory commands high prices on the international black market. If current trends continue, the elephants could be entirely wiped out within seven years.
The decline in elephants is a step backwards. In the 1980s, during a period of heavy poaching and lax enforcement, the population dipped as low as 55,000. Thanks to better legal enforcement and protection, elephants made a major recovery. Now all that hard work may be ruined.
An official from the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique made a sobering announcement this week when it was revealed that rhinos are now extinct inside the park. António Abacar, the park’s director, indicated that no rhinos have been spotted in Limpopo since January, which leads him to believe that poachers have killed the few animals that had remained. With rhinos now gone, he believes those same poachers have now turned their attention on the park’s elephant population, which is endangered as well.
Rhinos are hunted throughout Africa for their horns, which are then sold on the black market in certain Asian countries. The horns are highly valued for their use in traditional medicines throughout Asia, despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence that indicates they hold any kind of medicinal properties whatsoever. The mistaken belief that a rhino horn is capable of curing any number ailments has pushed the species to the brink of extinction across the entire continent.
The Limpopo National Park is part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, which includes Kruger National Park in South Africa and Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe. This large sanctuary was created in 2001, with the three countries agreeing to remove numerous fences between their lands so that the animals could continue to migrate freely across the region. At the time, more than 1000 elephants and 300 rhinos were relocated into Limpopo National Park to help bolster their populations there. At the start of this year, only about 15 of those rhinos were believed to still be living inside the park. Now it seems that those are gone as well.The poaching throughout the region has gotten so bad that South Africa has threatened to restore its fences along the border with Mozambique. According to the article linked to above, over the past five years South African law enforcement has killed 279 Mozambicans who were caught in the act of poaching, while arresting another 300. That would seem to indicate that much of South Africa’s poaching problems isn’t homegrown but instead comes from its neighbor.
It is incredibly sad to me to think that we on the edge of wiping out an entire species because some people erroneously believe that its horn can be used in medicines. The rhino is being pushed to the brink and it may soon be gone altogether.
Most 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.