Safari Tourist Leaves Safety of Vehicle for Photo, Killed by Elephants

A group of elephants, including a baby elephant, walk through a dry, sparse landscape with scattered trees and bushes. The scene shows the elephants moving together, with mountains visible in the background under a clear sky.
A small herd of elephants in South Africa’s Pilanesberg National Park where the incident happened. | Stock photo

A Spanish tourist has died after he left the safety of his vehicle to take a photo of a herd of elephants which trampled him to death.

The 43-year-old man — who has been named as Carlos Luna from Zaragoza — is said to have ignored the warnings of others and stepped outside the car while on safari in South Africa’s Pilanesberg National Park.

The man was with his fiance and two other women when they spotted a breeding herd with three young by a lake.

Luna stepped out of the vehicle because he wanted to get close-up photos of the six elephants.

After approaching them, a 3.5-ton adult female cow was spooked and in a bid to protect its young, charged at the man. The protective elephant was joined by two adult bulls who also attacked.

Realizing he was in danger, the Spaniard began racing back to the car, camera in hand, but the rushing elephants caught up with him and knocked him to the floor.

Witnesses say that the 30-second attack was brutal with the man’s body being crushed into the earth.

The elephants left the scene afterward and did not attack anyone else.

“The elephants moved away immediately from the scene without any aggression towards the nearby vehicles and disappeared in the bushes,” says a North-West Parks and Tourism Board spokesperson.

“The guest was a male Spanish citizen who had entered Bakgatia Gate with three friends and not far from the gate had come across a breeding herd of elephants feeding a distance from the road.

“According to eyewitnesses the man decided to alight from the vehicle and approach the elephants on foot taking pictures.

“Despite warnings from his fellow passengers and occupants from two other vehicles that were at the sighting he unfortunately did not heed the warnings.”

The Daily Mail spoke to a park ranger who describes it as a “very stupid thing to do.”

“The tourist was literally shouted at to get back in his car but wanted to get photographs of the herd,” the park ranger adds.

His friends were understandably hysterical and are undergoing counseling.

“Sadly despite all the warnings people still get out to take photos but most are lucky enough to get away with it,” the park ranger tells the Mail.

“The herd were not to blame and were acting entirely as normal when they felt a threat to their young. Indeed they passed right past the car with the three of his friends in when they left.”

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.