KRUGER NATIONAL PARK, South Africa: An elephant has trampled a suspected poacher to death in South Africa's Kruger National Park, said spokesperson Isaac Phaahla.
Phaahla told the Agence France-Presse that the poacher's mangled body was discovered late last week, on Thursday, during an anti-poaching operation, adding that it appeared the other poachers fled before any animals were harmed.
"Initial investigations suspect the deceased was killed by an elephant and left behind by his accomplices," he stated.
Rangers found the man's cellphone and turned it over to police to assist their efforts to track down his accomplices, Phaahla added.
Earlier this year, another suspected poacher was trampled and killed by a herd of elephants at the park, while in 2019, a suspected rhino poacher was killed by an elephant before his body was apparently eaten by lions.
In February, the park's rhino population plunged by 70 percent over the previous decade to just under 4,000, according to its own figures. Officials also announced the arrest of four rhino poachers on Tuesday.
"There has been an increasein the number of poachers arrested, totaling 22, compared to 17 for the same period in 2020," Phaahla said.
Over the past two years, park officials have successfully reduced wildlife crimes due to new technologies and increased patrols, Phaahla said, noting that Kruger has seen a 37 percent drop in animals poached compared to last year.
Pressure on the park has also been partly relieved by COVID-19 travel restrictions.