Elephants Fatally Trample Tourist who Reportedly Ignored Warnings

A Spanish tourist is dead in a South African wildlife refuge after what one outlet called a “horrific” trampling.

Reports say the 43-year-old man was riding in a vehicle with his fiancee in Pilanesberg National Park on July 7. The group encountered a herd of elephants, including several calves, near the park gate, about 180 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg.

Ignoring park policy and warnings from his fellow passengers, the man dismounted from the vehicle and approached the herd on foot, camera in hand.

When one adult elephant charged the encroaching tourist, he fled. Soon, others in the herd followed. The group caught the man and trampled him to death in a 30-second incident that left, witnesses told the Daily Mail, nothing but “the tattered blood-soaked clothing of the tourist and the remnants of the tourist’s body crushed into the earth.”

No further aggression

Once the elephants finished attacking the man, they reportedly retreated into the bush with no further aggression toward the other individuals and vehicles present.

Rangers responding to the scene could not help the trampled victim. Some witnesses attributed the incident to the elephants’ protective instincts over their calves.

Park officials handed the case to police for further investigation. Tourists in Pilanesberg are welcome to drive their own vehicles, and most of the park is accessible in a typical commuter car. However, Piet Nel, the North West Parks and Tourism Board’s acting chief conservation officer, told ABC News that strict rules against leaving vehicles apply inside the park.

Pilanesberg park officials inform visitors they’re not allowed to leave vehicles, Nel said — and that each visitor signs a form showing they understand the rule. A police spokesperson told the Daily Mail that Sunday’s victim was driving the car he was in, stopped, and got out on his own.

“In some cases, people are oblivious to the dangers in the parks,” Nel said. “We must remember that you are entering a wild area. The [Parks and Tourism] Board is very saddened by this tragic accident and would like to express their sincere condolences to the deceased’s next of kin and friends.”

Officials have released no further details about the victim. Sun City, a famed resort and casino that borders the park, reportedly sent professionals to aid the dead man’s traumatized companions.

The fatality marks this year’s third deadly elephant attack on a tourist after two Americans died in separate incidents in Zambia.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson spent his 20s as an adventure rock climber, scampering throughout the western U.S., Mexico, and Thailand to scope out prime stone and great stories. Life on the road gradually transformed into a seat behind the keyboard, where he acted as a founding writer of the AllGear Digital Newsroom and earned 1,500+ bylines in four years on topics from pro rock climbing to slingshots and scientific breakthroughs.