A KwaZulu-Natal father of two will be laid to rest on Tuesday after he was killed by an elephant while searching for missing cattle in the Pongola Game Reserve last week.
According to Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, Bhekisabelo Prince Nyawo was accompanied by an unnamed person when he entered the reserve last Monday in search of missing cattle.
Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said the details of what transpired are unclear.
“All that is known is that the bull elephant attacked the two men, and one person escaped unharmed. The second person was, unfortunately, killed on the scene. The person who survived alerted the family of the deceased.
“The family, assisted by community members, searched for the missing person on Tuesday.
“Ezemvelo was informed of the incident a few minutes after midnight on Wednesday.”
Mntambo said the incident was reported to the police but a decision was taken to delay rescue attempts “due to the presence of the herd of elephants near where the body had been earlier discovered.”
A police search and rescue team was dispatched on Wednesday to recover Nyawo’s body.
“It is difficult to know what might have caused the attack. It should be noted there have been several incidents of elephants being shot at by poachers in the area.
“This has resulted in most elephants being unpredictable and dangerous.
“The elephant that killed this person may have been in musth, a periodic condition in bull elephants characterised by highly aggressive behaviour and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones, perhaps wounded, or might have been harassed by people before the incident.
“The elephants, though often seen roaming within Ezemvelo’s Pongola reserve, belong to the adjacent private Pongola Game Reserve East.
Ezemvelo said it would engage with the legal owners of the elephants so they could be recaptured.
“The elephants arrived in the area in October 2016 when they were herded across the border between SA and Eswatini.”