Suspected rhino poacher trampled to death by herd of breeding elephants at South African national park

A suspected rhino poacher was trampled to death Sunday by a herd of breeding elephants as he fled rangers at a South African national park.

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Rangers at Kruger National Park said they were on a routine patrol in the Phabeni area when they saw a group of three poachers who started to run when they realized they had been spotted.

One poacher was later arrested. He told authorities that the group ran into a herd of elephants. He was unsure if the others escaped.

Rangers searched the area and recovered one person who was “badly trampled.” The other poacher is believed to have injured his eye but continued to flee. A rifle was recovered. Police are now investigating.

Authorities continue their search for the third poacher.

“It is unfortunate that a life was unnecessarily lost. Only through discipline, teamwork and tenacity will we be able to help stem the tide of rhino poaching in KNP,” Gareth Coleman, managing executive of the park, said in a statement. “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.”

This is not the first time a suspected rhino poacher was killed by wild animals on the preserve.

In April 2019, a rhino poacher was trampled to death by an elephant, and his remains were later eaten by a pride of lions.

In February 2018, a suspected poacher was mauled to death by lions.