PICS: Driver filmed taunting elephant (Kruger NP, South Africa)


Independent Online

Date Published

See links for photos of driver/elephant.

Durban – Purposeful, reckless and cruel behaviour towards wildlife or any other animal is appalling and perpetrators should be charged to the full extent of the law.

So said Yolande Kruger, Elephant Ignite Expedition (EIE) spokesperson, after viewing footage of alleged elephant cruelty by a motorist at the Kruger National Park. The video was posted on Facebook this week.

Joan Ryder Rathband published the video on her Facebook page. She had taken the video in February.

Rathband said they were about to the leave the park through the Paul Kruger Gate, when they stopped to photograph a beautiful elephant as it stepped into the road.

“One always has to pay great respect to these magnificent animals as they have been known to attack vehicles. When you view the video, you will understand why.

“He (the motorist) actually left the road to try to hit the elephant and then returned to the road and drove to the gate as though he had not done anything untoward.

“If this person behaves this badly when he could see that there were witnesses, what does he do when he is on his own?” she asked.

The video shows a white Toyota Corolla with smoke coming from the tyres as it braked hard a few metres from the elephant which was on the side of the road. The driver made no attempt to go around the elephant, despite there being ample space to do so. Instead, the driver veered off the road on to the sandy verge towards the elephant.

The elephant can be seen trying to get out of the way by going into the dense roadside bushes.

Rathband said they notified an employee in the park. She said police and the security guards at the gate gave them the impression they recognised the vehicle when she showed them the pictures.

Isaac Phaahla, South African National Parks (SAN Parks) spokesperson, said they would view the footage of the incident before commenting.

Kruger said there were too many cruel acts against animals and far too little action was being taken.

“As the custodians of the wildlife in the Park, we sincerely hope that SANParks does not let this alleged incident go unpunished. They need to investigate and revert back to the public on the actions taken against the driver of the vehicle, if found guilty.

“At the very least, the guilty parties should be banned from entering any national park in South Africa.

“It should not be a challenge to locate the driver since the registration number of the vehicle is clearly visible. On our journey through Africa, we were fortunate to not witness such behaviour,” Kruger said.

The EIE had recently returned from travelling more than 10 000km through 10 southern African countries. The all-women team visited African organisations dedicated to the preservation of elephants.

According to the Kruger National Park’s website, which explains how to tell an elephant’s mock charge from a serious one, the common signs of a mock charge are bush-bashing, dust-throwing, trumpeting and other vocalisations.

It also stated that open ears and an intimidating presence, could be considered a mock-display.

“Aggressive or startled elephants usually make sudden head shakes and flap their ears against their head. Serious charges usually occur after all attempts to intimidate have failed, and the elephant feels threatened,” the website stated.

According to the video, the elephant stepped on to the road and retreated after the driver went after it. There are no signs that the motorist was in danger.

An elephant at the Park was shot dead after an attack in 2014 when tourists in a VW Polo on a drive through the park got too close to it.

Park management said this was done to prevent the elephant from hurting other people.

Video footage of the attack showed the elephant did show signs of getting agitated, but the driver did not attempt to back away slowly. Instead, the car was shown driving on and getting even closer to the elephant.

* IOL has chosen to show the video