Wild Frontiers

Kruger elephant shot after attack

Original Source: News24

An elephant bull has been put down after it attacked a couple in the Kruger National Park on Monday, trampling their blue Volkswagen car. The attack took place at a water hole near Pretoriuskop in the south of the park, SANparks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said on Tuesday, a Sapa correspondent reported.

“Apparently the South African couple were following the elephant bull to videotape it and suddenly the animal turned on them and pushed their car into the bush for about 400m. According to eyewitnesses the animal was extremely aggressive and our rangers were alerted of the incident by the tourists,” Phaahla said.

A park physician advised the woman to go to the Medi-Clinic Hospital in Nelspruit for observation. The man was unharmed, but in shock. Phaahla said the couple’s names were being withheld until their families had been informed.

The elephant was put down because it had shown such aggressive behaviour before and posed a threat to other tourists. “The elephant had to be put down. Since it was in its musth phase, the elephant had been in a fight with another dominant bull before and was very aggressive,” Phaahla said.

During this phase an elephant’s elevated testosterone levels cause them to become aggressive, even when unthreatened. “Musth happens in the breeding season when young bachelor bulls try to enter a breeding herd to mate with a female,” said nature conservationist Bryan Jones, of the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre. “They are often driven away by the dominant male of that herd and may divert their frustration onto something else, sometimes humans.”

Phaahla advised tourists to park at a safe distance from animals.  “We need to respect their space. They are wild animals and behave naturally in the wild. Their behaviour can be very unpredictable and if they feel under threat they will attack to defend themselves.”

Apart from this incident Phaahla said the festive season had so far been uneventful in the park. Some tourists had been caught getting out of their cars and several speeding fines had been issued.


Africa Geographic Editorial

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  • Sharon van Wyk

    Why on earth kill the elephant? What a travesty.

    • JP Freyman

      so, it was better to let the elephant kill the couple????

      • Raghu

        When tourists enter a wild life park, they take on some risks one of which is a possible attack from a wild animal. The tourists are entering the domain of wild life, NOT the other way around!

        Musth is a natural and temporary condition all male elephants go through. Instead of killing the elephant park authorities could have taken alternate steps such as warning tourists about the elephant in musth and instructing visitors to keep a safe distance from elephants especially males.

        Even if an elephant is not in musth and has a habit of attacking humans unprovoked there could be other ways of dealing with the problem – like tranquilizing it and moving it to zoo or another sanctuary. Killing an endangered animal seems to be the most stupidest thing to do.

        • Edu Osieta

          I couldn’t have put it better. We learn, too late, after the elephant has been killed that it is rogue, in musth and to keep your distance and some other details that indicate that the rangers were tracking the elly. Unless they lied to save face, the fault lies with them and the tourists. I have a feeling both sides lied.

        • Paul

          Good points except the take it to a zoo part. Adult elephants cant be relocated to a zoo. They will never survive.

        • Jeannie Bird

          No, leave the elephant where it is, doing what an elephant does. It doesn’t need to go to a zoo or sanctuary, it needs to be left alone and take the humans out of the scenario. Simple, it’s their world, not ours!!!!

        • Raja redy

          very true! Raghu, we should be happy in our country apart from strangers no one dare to do tis. But in African countries tis. is very common thow., still they don’t value for the endangered animals. It will take more time for them to learn on things. Sad, we human in animal territory and disturbing them and killing in their home, we call tat as “put it down”

      • velda

        if they had left it alone, it wouldn’t have attacked them. They obviously didn’t respect the animals space, so it did what was natural to it.

      • Edu Osieta

        Sorry, did the part thet they survived their own stupidity escape you? THEY alerted the rangers that their car was damaged. Sharon’s question is valid as the excuses for human ignorance and stupidity are flimsy grounds for killing the animal. They were following a sexually excited elephant and not keeping their distance but the elephant’s side of the story gets told by the same people who killed it because of some (probably whiney) tourists.

      • Beetit

        There should be clear guidelines for stupid people. Kind of like skiing out of bounds, if you get/lost/killed and someone has to come rescue you, then you should pay out of your pocket for your stupidity. About your question though, I think the Darwin award prevails.

      • Jason Parmenter

        Yes, I am sorry to say it would have been better to keep the elephant, the world is already over populated with to many people. Why are human lives held to be more special than any other animals on earth. There are billions of humans on the planet, from what I can see happening around the world we are going to be the cause our own destruction eventually unless we can drastically change our way of living and learn to co exist with nature.

        • WhiteAfrican

          So true.

      • Tracy

        Didn’t you read the story? The elephant didn’t kill the couple. Minding its own business it was harassed and followed by the couple, and gave them a little lesson in good manners, something they obviously needed.

      • AndreasLarsson

        Why not? Stupidity should be punished.

      • Toto

        They knew the rules,they overstepped the mark by the guy with the video sitting on the car window.How dumb the elephant only did what comes naturally it was his turf.Well the injured lady received the best treatment in a
        private hospital another elephant bites the dust.

      • Toto

        The poor animal had to pay with its life ,for the stupidity of some tourist in Europe,what a digrace,rules in the park are there to be followed,you abide by them you are fine you don’t you either die or gat injured

      • Beetit

        YES! They did drive into HIS living room (If the park is going to allow this and the dangers it poses) then YES!! THAT is the risk. Also, if you can’t find reverse, you really are an idiot and should not be around to reproduce.

    • Jason Parmenter

      Yes I agree, the Elephant was in its own environment with humans probably getting to close and upsetting the elephant, the elephant reacted instinctively to the situation as being a threat or a challenge. Some times humans are very stupid like in this case, we can not even live with out destroying our own ecological environment. A lesson in life for the people but a very sad outcome for the elephant.

  • Greg

    Outrageous! If only we would be so quick in putting poachers down, many more elephants would still be alive. And why punish/kill the animal? It is their habitat, and not a petting zoo!! Humans take all sorts of excuses to kill animals. Those who decided on killing the elephant should be ashamed – maybe they are just some re-educated poachers! Shame on you!

  • Shammer

    And does the couple have to pay any costs to replace that elephant. If they were videotaping I’m sure they were treating it as a zoo animal – NOT a wild animal in musth! Such a travesty. When you enter Kruger you do so completely aware of YOUR responsibility and the dangers. I’m sickened that the animal had to be shot because of tourists ignorance…

  • Catherinesmom

    IMV, there was absolutely NO reason for the elephant to be put down. He could have been tranquilized , allowing the tourist time to leave the area. The tourists should NOT have been following the bull as closely as they were ; they should also be responsible for their actions and obvious lack of knowledge regarding park rules. Silly stupid people!! Poor Elephant!

    • Margaret Dalton

      Thought i read that the bull had previously been aggressive and that the ‘tourists’ had followed at a distance of 40 metres – to me that seems reasonable – when the ellie attacked tossing the vehicle over and over into the bush. Would like to think that there was another way to avoid euthanasing the bull, but what might that be? Kruger is not a petting zoo, but neither is it a place to allow free reign to aggressive bulls. Only the footage shot by the tourists might give the proper story about how well they respected the space allocated to this ellie.

      • Corinne

        Obviously, if 40 metres, it was not enough space. It is the elephants space not the tourists. If the eles habitat is not a place for them to reign, in musth, what then, eliminate all bulls? Tourists should learn some elephant etiquette and also realize that they are stalkers and trespassers.Go with great respect and some knowledge of elephants.

    • shirley

      thats the same thing i said also there was no reason to kill him

  • Jonathan Koekemoer

    What is interesting to me is the condition of the car. If the tourists were following the elephant, why is the damage and the tusk holes mostly on the side of the car? Why are you following an Elephant that is clearly in Musth? I cant wait to see the footage of the incident, and I am willing to bet that they were too close. I have a feeling that we will never see any footage from them.

  • brad

    I would like to see the video the “victims” took… I wonder how close they really were? That will be the truth to see if the elephant was “aggressive”

  • Derek

    We as South Africans know not to act in this way, of course the elephant felt threatened and to put it down for protecting itself, well that’s just appalling.
    These two idiots should be arrested and charged accordingly.

  • Debra Olivier

    What an unfortunate incident. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong tine. Poor Ellie. But if agression was a pattern, parks board know best.

  • Chris

    This is way beyond stupid and irresponsible. Those who have killed the elephant should be put down. But let’s guess..
    they’re humans and believe that they own the Earth and if someone kills
    them and get caught, they end up in jail, but those who kill animals for
    imbecile reasons get away. I hope that those who did this atrocity will
    read these messages and to eventually think that at some point in their
    evil twisted life, it will come they turn too. As someone stated below,
    they entered their turf, not the other way around, and he felt
    threatened which is perfectly normal. To be put down for perfectly
    normal reactions is pure evil.

  • shirley

    This is a real waste of a Beautiful animal, shoot the couple instead they are in his home not other way round and clearly had no respect for the Eli, i do not see the reason for him being killed should have tranquilized him instead

  • Ann Lloyd

    This is horrible…. That elephant should of never been killed…. How tragic…. This is a park…. full of wild animals and people are in their territory… How awful… you guys should be ashamed of yourself…. … maybe you guys should limit tourist during these breeding times… This is awful…

  • Corinne

    So what now, kill all the elephants in musth so tourists can safely invade their territory?

  • Tracy

    They shouldn’t have pestered the elephant, all visitors should be made aware of musth and the danger they might put themselves in, this story disgusts me, it’s not as if musth has just been realised, this is wrong on all levels. They elephants live there, the visitors do not, you can not expect wild animals to be circus toys and follow them around for your entertainment, this is just sooooooo wrong, sooo wrong, the humans should have been shot for being there There are too many humans not enough elephants, tigers, lions, wild dogs…etc..etc..etc….!!!

  • jenny

    So, I’ve been to Kruger many times and have MANY, MANY, MANY times seen tourists get FAR too close to animals of all kinds. And noisy, shouting and laughing loudly, and basically forgetting that they are intruding upon what is ‘safe’ for BOTH parties. I can’t help but jump to the conclusion that these folks were doing something ‘invasive’ as well! With all the elephant deaths all over Africa its a terrible shame to kill one for standing its ground. If it wanted to, it would have killed the couple easily. It’s obvious it was warning them to get the f… away! Tourists need to be educated and FINED heavily for being obnoxious and getting too close! This would generate some good income for the parks!!!

  • Raf Aerts

    I’m sorry, but who’s the invader here? The bull or the car (with the primates driving it in it)? If an elephant bull isn’t allowed to defend his territory, I’m really disappointed in the KNP management.

  • Beetit

    That’s the same thing as an intruder coming into your home….so you try to protect your family and you attack, then they kill you for it. There should be stiff penalties for moronic humans who try to follow an elephant in their car. This clearly MUST be stopped. This is clearly unsafe who knows if the elephant wasn’t in musth??? What idiotic people. They had better be FINED at the very least!

  • Rob Mugabe
    • No wonder it attacked – they ignored all the clear warnings! – ears flapping, head shaking etc!

  • Vrede Rass

    I hope this couple will forever remember the fear they must have gone through when they were “attacked” – serves them right! and may they never ever again put their feet in our beautiful Wild Animal park!

  • Karina1

    This death is totally unacceptable and shows how ignorant the people running these tours are. Elephants are being attacked from all sides but to be murdered for doing what elephants do is downright disgusting. This was his home, his territory not theirs. What were these obviously inexperienced people doing running around after this poor animal anyway? Some elephants are more aggressive than others but who can blame them having to put up with humans at every turn. These does not bode well for tourism in Kruger park.

  • gail

    this elephant was in Musth, of course it was aggressive. Tourists take a risk every time they go into the African bush, its where wild animals live, the park should warn tourists about elephant behaviour. If the park knew this elephant is aggressive why haven’t they checked him out medically or relocated him. Why? because it costs money, so they put people at risk instead

  • Speaking for the aminals

    I agree that the Elephant should have not been put down. If us “Humans” are going in the wild animals Territory, “Survive at your own risk”. You also need to remember, these aminals have been Poached for their Ivory, and they have an excellent Memory of us humans and see us as a threat. The animal was just protecting itself. I don’t feel sorry for the humans who get hurt. Leave the aminals alone!!!!!! If we are going to put animals down, then start putting the Poachers down as well..

  • Jono

    Don’t know all the facts but, perhaps the couple should have been sent to Medi-clinic to be put down instead? Why were the annoying the elephant?

  • idiocy_abounds

    Jackasses…the elephant posed an extreme, consistent danger to tourists in the park. This was not the first time. The PAYING tourists are the reason Kruger and the animals within exist at all. I would imagine after 3 or 4 episodes of tourist stomping, Kruger would begin to lose some business..ie funds for the animals. Then it all goes downhill from there. Always get a kick out of you armchair animal experts that don’t know shit from shinola…

    • SFA

      You probably support the poachers as well!!!!

    • chris

      Having worked in the Kruger myself and seen several incidents like this, i feel the tourists are 10000 % to blame. The Kruger would not be here if not for the elephants and PAYING tourists just help pay “some” of the costs. I worked for several years on the elephant contraception project and do you know how expensive that was??

    • Tracy

      Your name suits you perfectly! How appropriate, at least you are honest about yourself. But maybe you should try to keep opinions like that to yourself in future….its a pity that the outcome was as favourable at is was regarding those tourists. Anyway, with any luck it’ll keep PAYING guests like yourself out of our WILDLIFE parks.

  • Heather Palfrey

    People forget that they are in their domain and should respect, you are out of your comfort zone. Why shoot the elephant, the tourists shouldn’t have kept following trying to video, they must have had a warnining from the elephant, why ignore it.

  • poof

    elephants tend to become agressive when poaching was an experience to them. What is the final consequence??????????? to shoot them? This people were utterly wrong in what they have been doing – the tourists as well as the park authorities.

  • Peter Apps

    “”Musth happens in the breeding season when young bachelor bulls try to enter a breeding herd to mate with a female,” said nature conservationist Bryan Jones, of the Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre. ”They are often driven away by the dominant male of that herd ….”

    Which just goes to show that you cannot believe everything that you read on the internet. Elephants do not have a breeding season, full musth is characteristic of mature prime bulls, and elephant herds do not have dominant males.

    Which anyone can find out by reading any one of a number of mammals field guides, or even by taking the trouble to check reputable internet sites instead of quoting local experts.

    • Edu Osieta

      Thanke goodness someone else caught that elephants live in matriarchal societies. The details in this story make me think there was lots of negligence on the part of the tourists and the park.

      Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre needs a new nature conservationist who knows his/her job.

  • tmaryso43

    Why put the elephant down. Not necessary if the Kruger park officials would tell tourists to keep away from the elephants during this phase. These are, after all, WILD animals and they do what nature intends for them to do. You can’t change the Wild animals but you sure can keep tourists away from situations like this!!

  • Brett Hoy

    As a field guide I deal with elephant almost on a daily basis. A bull elephant in musth shows clear signs and can easily be avoided. It is the inexperience or lack of respect for the animals that causes these incidents to happen. Very sad that the animal was put down due to a rash decision by authorities. Every year around the holiday season there are problems. .Most of which are human error.

  • Sunette

    I hope the couple got a HUGE fine. They drove a small car, yet they had to follow an elephant bull. Stupid! It is like killing the owner of a house because he screamed at burglars.

  • Brenda Pratt

    Latest news has the elephant suffering from an abscess, in a tooth, I think. It had degenerated so badly that maggots had already infested the wound. It must have been mad with pain.

    • Karen

      It is a much bigger loss to kill the animal. They acted like idiots and the elephant gave them enough warning and time to get away. Who in their right mind tries to overtake an elephant??? I hope this haunts them forever !

  • Forever a nomad

    So because they wanted to get too close to film, the elephant must pay the price!

  • Andrew

    If I was an elephant and I saw a blue polo with cameras following me around in the bush, I’d also get quite pissed. What a sad waste of a beautiful creatures life…and killed by the hands of the idiots who were meant to protect it.

  • Cheryl

    Wow – so a national park puts an elephant down. What next? I have seen so many tourists get too close to elephants and then they wonder why they were attacked.

  • Jim Edwards

    This is a travesty. One of the first things you learn on safari is that male elephants can be very unpredictable and aggressive, especially if in musth. Our guides would always have an escape plan when near elephants. Usually you want the engine off for photography because of the vibration, but the guides were very skilled at maintaining a safe distance and moving quickly when necessary. It seems that all three of the incidents below could have been prevented. Perhaps parks that allow inexperienced,untrained, unaware drivers to get near wildlife, should reassess their policies. It’s not fair to the wildlife to kill them because of their natural behaviors and human stupidity.


  • Gabriella Kiss

    Dear All, I am veterinarian. If they do not go close, the elephant will not attack!!! This was not the mistake of the elephant, it was the mistake of the couple. I do not agree to kill animal.. We have to respect distance. But people are crazy to get better and better picture or video. The nature is nature. We are on the field of wild animals.

  • You see,, don’t buy blue cars,, specially VW’s. Re killing it, well its a judgement call by those who understand animals.Sad though!

  • jenna

    And the elephant was put down,,,,,, the stupid cunts in the car should be put down… And who made the decision to put the beautiful animal down??? Put them down to! Mr elephant Who was in his own space doing what elephants do…. How stupid can people be… Killing animals beceause they being them selves in their own space. Is that not what the national game parks are for?

  • Janine

    I saw the video of this from people in the car behind them who were afraid and made the right decision to turn around, this couple carried on driving closer obviously the elephant saw this as a challenge. Idiots should have respected the animal!! So sad the elephant dies because of these morons stupid decision making!!!

  • Kelly Lee-sang

    As someone who has had the chance to go on safari. I think the couple should have respected the animals space and right to be where it was. You would not turn up to someones house and help yourself to their things. This was his house and they should have been more sensible. Why should the animal die for their mistake. Must add The safari was the best family holiday that we have ever had.

  • 7anpau1

    There is a video of the attack filmed from another car circulating on the internet. It shows that the couple in the VW Polo did have enough time to drive away savely. The elephant obviously felt provoked. The elephant clearly showed displacement activity before attacking the car. If they would have known what they were doing and had slowly driven back, nothing would have happened. Instead the Polo stayed at the same spot. What the hell were they thinking if they were thinking at all?

  • Pebo

    How is it ever an animal’s fault? Only people are capable of committing crimes and being malicious. Animals only know survival instinct which they need in order to survive and therefore we cannot expect any less of them! People should know better! Animals need a place to live in the wild too, you go to look at them because of your own curiosity and therefore you should do so at your own risk. This makes me so mad that this is the mentality of some ignorant people. Killing an animal for just being an animal? Ridiculous! That’s why places like this make me mad. It’s all about the money for them, not about the animals. The management should be prosecuted for murder as well as the people in the car that crept up so closely to a wild animal and didn’t bother trying to back off when clearly the elephant was upset.



  • Karen

    It is a much bigger loss to kill the animal. They acted like idiots and the elephant gave them enough warning and time to get away. Who in their right mind tries to overtake an elephant??? I hope this haunts them forever

  • Renee Johnston

    Tourists need to be advised that when entering areas like the Kruger National Park, we are entering wildlife territory not their own backyard for fun and games!!!! If tourists wish to do a self drive in the Kruger or any national park, it is important for them to do their homework and understand any and all of the animals behavior! These tourists were irresponsible and arrogant and because of their own stupidity, there is no-one else to blame but themselves!

    I am a South African and in the Tourism Industry and this was totally and completely unnecessary to put the Elephant down! Reading the reason as to why the Bull was put down was not because of any aggression he may have displayed but all about the MONEY and keeping future tourists happy! The Board has just okayed any Tourist entering the Kruger that it is okay to pursue any wildlife, place your life at risk, push the animal to defense mode and when it attacks you, it will be shot!!!

    in future, maybe just a hint or some advise as to how to do your job, the appropriate call to have made on this very situation was to dart the Bull and relocate him to another National Park where self driving is not allowed or advise all tourists to stay clear of any male elephant bulls!!!!

  • Paul

    Musth or must /ˈmʌst/ is a periodic condition in bull (male) elephants, characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be as much as 60 times greater than
    in the same elephant at other times. scientific investigation of musth is problematic because even the most placid elephants become highly violent toward humans and other
    elephants during musth, requiring segregation and isolation until they recover. Female elephants do not undergo musth.

    The elephant’s aggression may be partially caused by a reaction to the temporin, which naturally trickles down into the elephant’s mouth. Another contributing factor may be the accompanying swelling of the temporal glands; this presses on the elephant’s eyes and causes acute pain comparable to severe root abscess toothache. Elephants sometimes try to counteract this pain by digging their tusks into the ground.

    Musth is linked to sexual arousal or establishing dominance, but this relationship is far from clear. Cases of elephants goring and killing rhinoceroses without provocation in national parks in Africa have been documented and attributed to musth in young male elephants, especially those growing in the absence of older males. Studies show that reintroducing older males into the elephant population of the area seems to prevent younger males from entering musth, and therefore, stop this aggressive behavior.

  • Tusker

    That elephant should never have been put down. That couple should have been sentenced to done “time” in the Park for a few weeks warning other visitors not to get too close to elephants while in musth. This way we can all benefit and become winners!! Tusker

Jacis Lodges
Africa Geographic