Story at a glance
- Officials from South African National Parks say rangers out on a routine patrol in one of Africa’s largest game reserves began pursuing three suspected poachers Saturday.
- One suspect who was detained said the group ran into a herd of elephants.
- “The Rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled and unfortunately succumbed to his injuries,” South African National Parks officials said in a statement.
A suspected poacher is dead after encountering a herd of breeding elephants in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
Officials from South African National Parks say rangers out on a routine patrol in one of Africa’s largest game reserves began pursuing three suspected poachers Saturday they believed were looking to poach rhinos.
Officials said when the suspects realized they were being chased, they left behind an axe and a bag filled with provisions as they ran away.
The rangers called for backup from the South African Police Service Air Wing and K9 unit and were able to subsequently arrest one of the individuals.
That individual told officials that the group ran into a herd of elephants and he was not sure if his accomplice had managed to escape from the animals.
“The Rangers discovered his accomplice badly trampled and unfortunately succumbed to his injuries,” South African National Parks officials said in a statement.
“The third suspect is said to have been injured in the eye but continued to flee. A rifle was discovered and the case was referred to police, who together with the pathology team attended to the scene.”
Authorities are continuing to search for the third suspect.
Poaching for the illegal trade of their horns is the greatest threat currently facing African rhinos. About 27,000 rhinos remain in the wild with very few surviving outside national parks and reserves.
Elephant populations across Africa are also becoming increasingly threatened with extinction due to poaching and destruction of their habitat. A recent assessment from conservation group the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the African forest elephant as critically endangered and the African savanna elephant as endangered due to the animals’ declining numbers.
“The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all of us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development,” Gareth Coleman, managing executive of the Kruger National Park, said.
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