Family distraught after son killed by bull elephant (South Africa)
The Sunday Tribune
September 18, 2022
for photo & audio of article.
DURBAN: A Galweni family, in the Umkhanyakude District Municipality, are
battling to come to terms with the unexpected death of their son,
Bhekisabelo Prince Nyawo, 46. The father of two was fatally attacked by an
elephant earlier this month on the eastern shores of the Pongolapoort Dam.
According to Musa Mntambo, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife communications manager,
the circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear.
However, he said Nyawo had been in the company of another person and had
entered the Pongola Nature Reserve looking for their missing cattle when
the incident occurred.
At some point, they came across a herd of elephants. The elephants, though
often seen roaming within Ezemvelo’s Pongola Nature Reserve, are believed
to belong to the adjacent private Pongola Game Reserve East.
“All that is known is that the bull elephant attacked the two men, and one
person escaped unharmed. The second person was, unfortunately, killed on
the scene. The person who survived alerted the family of the deceased.
“The incident was reported to the SAPS at Ingwavuma. It should be noted
that there have been several incidents of elephants being shot at by
poachers in the area. This has resulted in most elephants being
unpredictable and dangerous.
The elephant that killed this person may have been in musth, perhaps
wounded, or might have been harassed by people before the incident,” said
Meanwhile, Nyawo’s mother, Gladys Nyawo said life will never be the same
without her son. She described her son as a kind and loving person.
Aener Nyawo, Bhekisabelo’s father, said that he was hurt by the death of
his son. “I did not expect that I would bury my beloved son who was so
young and lively. His passing comes as an absolute shock, considering how
much we talked and laughed on that fateful day before he left, it really
pains me to know that I will never see him again.
“I am a very sickly old man and I relied on him a lot. He worked as my
extended arm since I have been unable to work due to years of illness and
inability to walk.
“Since the tragic incident, not a single person from the facility has come
to see my family and this is very wrong.
“I hope a meeting will be held with the management,” he said.
Sihle Mkhize, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife CEO, said they hope to prevent such
incidents from happening. “As an organisation, we shall support the family
of the deceased to the best of our abilities. We hope that this unfortunate
incident will serve to bring the community and the nature reserve to work
together so that we shall prevent such future incidents,” said Mkhize.
He added that Ezemvelo will initiate engagement with the legal owners of
the elephants so that they can be recaptured. Meanwhile, concerns have been
raised related to the safety and security of both elephants and people in
Megan Carr, Elephant Projects Lead for the EMS Foundation, said getting too
close to an elephant can be dangerous.
“Elephants enjoy their personal space. Respecting an elephant’s space will
usually lead to a positive interaction but aggravating an elephant or
getting too close can be very dangerous indeed. Humans in vehicles should
never be closer than 80 - 100 metres from a bull elephant. Bull elephants
in musth, a heightened state of reproductive hormones, are more energetic
and unpredictable. Growing pressure from humans, broken fence lines,
hunting and poaching has added to the unpredictable behaviour and stress of
elephants,” said Carr.
“The Sunday Tribune” approached the Pongola Game Reserve East, however
comment was not forthcoming by time of publication.