Suspected poacher killed by elephants at South African national park

The man was fleeing from park rangers when he came across a herd of elephants.

April 18, 2021, 1:41 PM

A suspected poacher was killed by a herd of breeding elephants that he encountered while fleeing from park rangers, according to South African officials.

Three people attempted to run away after they were spotted by rangers at the Kruger National Park, one of Africa's largest game reserves, on Saturday, South African National Parks officials said.

After one of the suspects was captured, he told park rangers the group had run into a herd of elephants, adding that he was not sure if his alleged accomplice had managed to escape, officials said.

Elephants are pictured at Kruger National Park, Nov. 26, 2020, in Malelane, South Africa.
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images, FILE

Rangers later discovered the man "badly trampled" and dead from his injuries.

Investigators say they are still searching for the third suspect, who continued to flee after he suffered an injury to the eye.

An African elephant in the Manyeleti Reserve in the Kruger Private Reserves area in the Northeast of South Africa.
Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images, FILE

The men are suspected of attempting to poach rhinos, according to officials. A rifle and axe were recovered amid the investigation, officials said.

"The campaign against poaching is the responsibility of all us; it threatens many livelihoods, destroys families and takes much-needed resources to fight crime, which could be used for creating jobs and development," Gareth Coleman, managing executive of Kruger National Park, said in a statement.

ABC News' Liezl Thom contributed to this report.

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