An elephant has trampled a suspected poacher to death in South Africa’s famed Kruger National Park, a spokesman said Friday. The mangled body was discovered Thursday during an intelligence operation aimed at preventing poaching, Kruger spokesman Isaac Phaahla told AFP.
But before any animals were harmed, an elephant stomped one poacher to death while the others fled, Phaahla said.
“Initial 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 have turned over to police to aid their efforts to track down his fellow poachers, he said.
Earlier this year, another suspected poacher was trampled and killed by a herd of elephants at the park. And in 2019, a suspected rhino poacher in was killed by an elephant before his body was apparently eaten by lions at the park.
Kruger has been hard-hit by poaching, particularly of rhinos. The park reported in February that its rhino population had plunged by 70 percent over the previous decade, to just under 4,000.
On Tuesday, the park announced the arrest of four rhino poachers. “There has been an increase of 29.41% in the number of poachers arrested (22) as compared to (17) for the same period in 2020,” the park said.
The park has succeeded in cracking down on wildlife crimes over the last 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 breather.
Kruger has seen a 37 percent reduction in animals poached compared to last year, he said.