The decision to euthanize an elephant that flipped over a vehicle at the Kruger National Park was not taken lightly, the South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday. SANParks was responding to a public outcry regarding its decision following the 30 December 2013 incident in which the animal flipped a visiting British couple’s car. It is fortunate that none of the tourists was reported dead though the vehicle got some damages.
Managing executive of the Kruger Park, Abe Sibiya, said the incident was a consequence of parks allowing people to enjoy the natural environment. “While it is expected in an environment such as the Kruger National Park that human and animal conflict will always occur, it is also vitally important that members of the public visiting various national parks should always adhere to the rules,” said Sibiya.
Sibiya added that, while the park can understand the public outcry and anger towards the management, it is critical for the public to have confidence in the park management. “The park is managed by adequately qualified officials who are able to make informed and appropriate decisions at any given time.”
According to Sibiya, the decision to euthanize the animal was not taken lightly but based on the information from well-experienced rangers’ assessments; the animal was likely to attack tourist vehicles in the future. “It is for this reason that we appeal to our patrons to act in a responsible manner and give such information as quickly as possible rather than share it on social media platforms.”
He said to bring closure to the matter; SANParks would need co-operation from the visitors that took the video. The law stipulates that evidence such as this should be accompanied by a written statement from eyewitnesses as the footage cannot be the only permissible evidence in order to sanction any fine against the alleged perpetrators. It is by law that tourists are supposed to drive slowly while in the park. This is done to protect the lives of wildlife and visitors from accidents. Kruger National Park is known for hosting a variety of bird species like Lappet-faced Vulture, Martial Eagle; Saddle-billed Stork, Kori Bustard and Ground Hornbill. The one curveball is the Pel’s Fishing Owl among others. Wild animals in the park include elephants, Buffaloes, Leopards, Lions, Antelopes among others.