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Drunkards allow elephant to suffer


Visitors at a reserve next to the Kruger Park on Friday watched in horror as two men with drinks in their hands hunted a young elephant. The elephant only died after 13 shots.

One of the witnesses told the Burger that the group of visitors were still traumatized after seeing the hunt.

The eyewitnesses, who did not want to be named, said that they were on the deck of the lodge at about 4pm when they heard a gunshot and a bang. After the first shot they heard the elephant crying out.

“I stood with my back to the bush, but after I heard the gunshot, I turned around and saw a cream coloured bakkie. Two men with drinks in their hands and armed with hunting rifles stood next to the bakkie.”

“It looked like the elephant was disorientated. He turned around fast and stormed into the bush. The men chased after the elephant. The elephant was still crying. It went on for about 15 minutes. We then heard another six shots. One of the guests said that he heard the elephant fall. After this another six shots were fired.”

“And then it was silent. It sounded like a whole magazine was emptied out before it was put out of its misery.”

“We were sick the whole weekend,” the witnesses said.

While the hunt was taking place, one of the guests called the head ranger and complained about the situation.

The guests apparently confronted the hunters, and were told by the hunters that the elephant was shot in self-defense.

“Some of our friends wanted to take pictures of the carcass, but the men tried to smack the camera out of his hand.”

Maseke is part of the greater Balule reserve, which is about 55 000 hectares.

Ian Nowak, the vice-president of the Balule owners association, said yesterday that the men did have a hunting permit, but that the management had launched an investigation into the incident.

According to Nowak, he took statements from eyewitnesses. He said that there are certain reserves in Balule which allow hunting. There are, however, strict protocols which the hunts must adhere to.

“We must take all ethical aspects into consideration. We are currently investigating the hunt because it took place so close to the lodges,” he said.

The hunts which take place on Balule are done “scientifically” and are based on the principle of “sustainable use,” he said.

Balule and the private nature reserves Umbabat, Timbavati and Klaserie which border the Kruger Park, have come under the spotlight because of the tophy hunting that takes place.

The Kruger Park management have been pressured to put up the fences again, which were taken down in 1996 to aid the migration of animals.

Original article: Elise Tempelhoff – Die Burger(translated from Afrikaans)

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