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article imageSouth African elephant euthanized after attacking tourist

By Natty Walker     Dec 31, 2013 in World
An elephant in South Africa's Kruger National Park was put down after it attacked a British tourist, ripping open the woman's thigh with its tusk. The woman and her male friend were filming the elephant, when suddenly they were both attacked.
The male only suffered minor injuries, but his friend was not so lucky. According to Kruger National Park officials, "The female tourist was seriously injured by one of the elephant's tusks, which perforated and ripped open the back of her upper thigh." They were both airlifted from the scene, then taken to a nearby hospital.
The elephant's attack caught the tourists off guard. According to Kruger National Park officials, "It suddenly stopped, turned around and rapidly walked towards the vehicle, which was stationary at that time." Officials continued, "The elephant charged at them, attacked the vehicle and flipped it over off the road into the thick bushes."
Like many animal species, male elephants become even more aggressive around mating season. This might be one of the contributing reasons for this seemingly unprovoked attack. The bull (male) elephant, after being euthanized, was discovered to have been in musth. Musth is a condition that affects male elephants once every year. It causes their testosterone levels to be extra high, along with increased aggressive and sexual behaviors. Not only was the elephant in musth, it had also been recovering from an injury that occurred before this incident.
Park officials warned in a statement, "Tourists are requested to always keep a safe distance at any animal sighting as they can be dangerous at times." This isn't the first aggressive elephant incident at Kruger National Park in recent months. A video posted by The Guardian in August 2013 shows a first person point-of-view as an elephant charges into a car. This video was filmed by a safari guide with 23 years of professional experience. According to The Guardian, neither the elephant nor anyone in the vehicle was harmed. However, the tour guide, Johann Lombard, stated that the behavior of an elephant charging straight into a vehicle is unusual.
Ike Phaahla, a spokesperson for South Africa National Parks, stated, "The elephant had to be put down. Since it was in its musth phase, the elephant had gotten into a fight with another dominant bull before and was very aggressive." Phaahla continued, "We need to respect their space. They are wild animals and behave naturally in the wild. Their behavior can be very unpredictable and if they feel under threat they will attack to defend themselves."
More about South Africa, Elephants, Attack, Tourists, Euthanized
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