An elephant that escaped the Kruger National Park (KNP) into Matsulu today, February 10, had to be euthanised by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) after several community members had allegedly chased after it and threw objects at it.
The MTPA’s acting CEO, Nomcebo Kunene, said the elephant had to be euthanised after a mob had formed around it. She said the situation was becoming difficult to control and the decision was taken to put it down.
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Kunene said the MTPA had assistance from the KNP, and that they had dispatched a helicopter, but that it had to be withdrawn later.
The KNP’s Ike Phaahla said the helicopter had flown to the area to drive the elephant back, however, the community members had threatened the MTPA members on the ground. He said the police had been notified, but could not control the crowds.
“We then flew back as the situation had gone out of control. The MTPA colleagues did their best, but it looks like their efforts were in vain,” he said.
The Matsulu Community Policing Forum’s Jacob Siboza said he had been notified that an elephant was in the area at 01:00. He said he let the MTPA know, and later received another call saying that some community members were chasing the elephant. He said he had then heard that the MTPA had shot it. Siboza said he was told that some community members had started cutting the elephant up.
Videos and photos of this were doing the rounds on social media. A person can be seen cutting up the elephant’s body with a chainsaw, with a crowd cheering in the background.
Kunene urged the community to report any sightings of wildlife in the area immediately and to avoid any that roam around in the future. She said they should call Siboza on 082 691 9090 or her directly on 082 322 8515.
Siboza also urged the community to stay away from any wildlife that comes into Matsulu, and to report it instead. He asked the community not to plant mango and avocado trees near the fence that separates Matsulu and the KNP, as this could lure elephants and other wildlife out of the park.