Alleged poacher trampled to death by elephant in South Africa

An elephant trampled to death a suspected poacher in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, a spokesperson said on Friday. The mutilated body was discovered Thursday during an intelligence operation to prevent poaching, Kruger’s spokesman Isaac Phaahla told AFP.

But before any animals were injured, an elephant trampled a poacher to death as the others fled, Phaahla said.

“The first investigations suspect that the deceased was killed by an elephant and left behind by his accomplices,” he added.

The elephant spared the man’s cell phone, which rangers turned over to police to aid in their efforts to find his fellow poachers, he said.

Earlier this year, another a suspected poacher was trampled and killed by a herd of elephants in the park. And in 2019, a suspected rhino poacher was killed by an elephant before his body was apparently eaten by lions At the park.

Kruger has been hit hard by poaching, especially rhinos. The park reported in February that its rhino population had plunged 70% over the previous decade, to just under 4,000.

On Tuesday, the park announced the arrest of four rhino poachers. “There was a 29.41% increase in the number of poachers arrested (22) compared to (17) for the same period in 2020,” the park said.

The park has been successful in cracking down on wildlife crime over the past two years, thanks to new technology and increased patrols that have helped apprehend suspects before they kill, Phaahla said.

COVID travel restrictions have also given the park a break.

Kruger saw a 37% reduction in the number of animals poached from last year, he said.

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