South African National Parks (SANParks) today confirmed that one of the fixed wing aircrafts went down in the Kingfisherspruit section of the Kruger National Park (KNP) this afternoon, 09 February 2019 while in pursuit of suspected poachers. The aircraft, a Foxbat Bantam was on an anti-poaching mission when the accident happened.
Details are still sketchy at the moment but no fatalities have been reported. The pilot has been assessed by the Skukuza resident doctor and is being flown to Nelspruit Medi Clinic for a thorough check up after sustaining a gash to his head and minor lacerations. The plane reportedly suffered engine failure, and the skilled pilot – named by the Lowvelder as Steven Whitfield – managed to land in with minor injuries to himself.
Reacting to the news, the Managing Executive of the KNP, Glenn Phillips expressed his relief that there were no fatalities.
“We are grateful that the pilot seems fine at this stage and we will give him all the support to get through this traumatic experience. Our prayers are with him and his family and we wish him a speedy recovery,” said Phillips.
Investigations are currently underway in order to determine the cause of the incident.