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Suspected poacher trampled to death by elephants in South Africa

Rhino poachers
Crackdown on poachers who kill endangered rhinos 02:21

A suspected poacher was trampled and killed by a herd of elephants at a South African national park over the weekend. 

Officials announced Sunday the death of the suspected poacher and the arrest of one accomplice at Kruger National Park on Saturday. They said that the deceased man, and his accomplices, were fleeing from park rangers when they unexpectedly encountered a breeding herd of elephants. 

Three individuals, suspected of attempting to poach rhinos, attempted to outrun the rangers. When they realized they were being chased, the suspects left behind an axe and a bag filled with provisions as they ran away. 

One of the suspects, who was arrested with the help of an Airwing and K9 unit, told officials that the group ran into a herd of elephants, and he was unsure if his accomplices escaped. 

Rangers discovered his accomplice "badly injured," adding that he "unfortunately succumbed to his injuries." The third suspect continued to flee, but is believed to have been injured in the eye. 

South Africa : Illustration
Kruger National Park African elephants on April 16, 2017 in South Africa. Frédéric Soltan/Corbis via Getty Images

Officials recovered a rifle from the scene and turned the case over to the police and a pathology team. The search for the third suspect is ongoing. 

"We are proud of the teamwork and dedication of our Rangers Corp, our aviators and the K9 unit. It is unfortunate that a life was unnecessarily lost," Gareth Coleman, KNP's managing executive, said in a statement. "Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able to help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP."

Coleman has called on members of the community to assist with information. 

"The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all us," Coleman said. "It threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime which could be used for creating jobs and development."

In 2019, a suspected rhino poacher at the same park was killed by an elephant before his body was apparently eaten by lions.

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