Chinese tourists

Hong Kong tourists' car overturned by elephant in Kruger National Park

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 2:37am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 April, 2013, 2:51am

An elephant overturned a vehicle carrying two tourists, injuring both, on Monday, said South African officials. 

An elephant in the park attacked the vehicle on a road at 6.30am on Monday, and a medical team in a helicopter rushed to help the injured male driver, saccording to a statement from Kruger National Park. He was taken to Clinix Phalabourwa Private Hospital, near the park.

The tourists were of “Chinese origin,” according to a statement from Kruger National Park but a hospital official said the couple were from Hong Kong.

Marinda Bouwer, manager of Clinix Phalabourwa Private Hospital – some 600 kilometres north of Johannesburg – said the man was believed to be an expat living and working in Hong Kong.

Reuters news agency on Tuesday reported that the man was Polish and the woman was Chinese.

An official at the hospital said the man was being treated for multiple rib fractures, and that his female companion was also being treated there for a pelvis fracture. He said officials planned to transfer the pair to a hospital in the Pretoria area.

The man, 49, was in a stable condition, conscious and could speak. The woman was also conscious and in a stable condition.

It is unclear why the elephant became aggressive, said the park spokesman William Mabasa. He is appealing to the public to be alert in Kruger park and try not to get too close if they see an elephant approaching on the road.

“We stay here every day. We meet elephants on the road,” Mabasa said. “We basically give them space but tourists sometimes don’t.”

The vast Kruger National Park lies in South Africa’s northeast, next to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

More than one million people visit Kruger each year and incidents of this sort are rare but not unheard of with the animals that can flip cars and uproot trees with ease.

The last incident of this sort took place in November 2012, when an elephant overturned a car, injuring one passenger.