Saturday, 22 December 2018

SOUTH AFRICA: Sexually Starved Elephant Tramples Game Ranger To Death

A sexually starved elephant broke into a game park in South Africa and trampled a top safari ranger in a fatal rampage.

Mark Lautenbach, a 33-year-old guide, died at Leopard Rock Lodge after a 13,000-pound elephant crushed him.

Officials blamed the male elephant’s aggressive behaviour on the animal being in a heightened state of sexual tension known as musth.

The elephant broke through the fence and into the lodge’s tourist area in the Madikwe Game Reserve.

The animal repeatedly trampled the seasoned safari ranger as he tried to steer the elephant away from park visitors.

The news of Mark Lautenbach is terribly sad and devastating, the Field Guides Association of South Africa (FGASA) wrote in a Facebook post. “Condolences from FGASA to the family.”

A safari ranger has died after being trampled on by a sexually charged bull elephant that had broken into a game park lodge in south Africa. Mark Lautenbach, 33, had tried to move the angry elephant which was in full musth away from the tourist area near Kruger National Park.

But the hormonal elephant, which had up to ten times as much testosterone through his body, charged at the ranger. It is believed Mark, from Hout Bay, near Cape Town, was trampled repeatedly by the elephant and suffered extensive injuries.

Following the attack, the elephant was put down over fears that once it had killed a human it could potentially do so again. Mark was described as being one of the most respected game rangers in South Africa.

Member of the Executive Council for Environment and Agricultural Development Desbo Mohono said: His death by an elephant is a great loss to the South African wildlife sector as Mark was a highly committed and highly trained ranger with years of experience. We pray that his family may find peace and comfort at this time of bereavement.

Expert tracker and bird expert Mark was manager and senior guide at Leopard Rock Lodge in the 70,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve. Leopard Rock is made up of five game lodges overlooking a waterhole and the banks of the Murera River and is home to the Big 5 of elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion and rhino.

When a bull elephant is in musth it becomes extremely dangerous and is sending out messages to the females he is ready to mate. It is also sending out a powerful message to all the rival males that he is not in the mood to be messed with.

This hormonal change can last several weeks or even several months. This elephant was an older bull and very big and had broken down a fence at Leopard Rock and had got into the lodging areas and was potentially a very big danger to all.

Mark is an expert and has had many encounters with bull elephants but something went terribly wrong here and the staff say nothing could be done once the elephant had him. He was one of the top five game rangers in South Africa and his services as a professional wildlife photographer were highly sought after and his loss in our community is huge.

Mark’s friend Kgomotso Letsholo said on Facebook: Mark, may the great Lord heal our hearts at Leopard Rock, we have lost a brother, a humble soul, a man always there to give a helping hand.

Elephant expert Dr Michelle Henley of Save the Elephants said: You have to be doubly cautious when you come across a bull elephant in musth for they are far more aggressive. Their testosterone levels are highly elevated and the first thing to be aware of is the swelling of a gland just behind the eye which for a bull in musth can swell to the size of a soccer ball.

The elephant has a way of walking, a stand-tall display, and you will see it swaggering down the road with urine gushing out which is a tell-tale sign he is in full musth and you cannot go near.

Tourism Observer

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