A motorist was arrested in the Kruger National Park last night “for having run over a cheetah”, according to the South African National Parks (SANParks) which said the accident occurred near Punda Maria, in the northern park of the Kruger.
“Details are still sketchy at this stage as to what exactly happened but Vlakteplaas Rangers attended to the scene of the accident, and handed over the driver involved to the South African Police,” said SANParks in a media alert on Twitter. A case has been opened.
SANParks has again urged visitors to the park to be “extra vigilant and to observe the speed limit in the parks”.
In 2019, a Swiss tourist died a few days after a giraffe fell on their vehicle after being struck by a minibus.
Although yesterday’s arrest took place at night, it’s not clear at what time of day the accident occurred. Some reports allege the driver was racing to get to the gate before it closed.
Angry and upset visitors to the Kruger called for tougher measures to ensure no more speeding in the park. Some said they’ve witnessed the Park’s own staff, as well as delivery drivers, speeding through the park.
Many said speeding motorists should be given hefty fines. Others suggested life-time bans from the Park, and the implementation of speed bumps.
Cheetahs are classed as “vulnerable” as their population is decreasing. SANParks did not clarify if the cheetah had been killed by the car or had survived the accident.
UPDATE: Photos posted on 24 September by Willem Botha on a Kruger-related social media page show another cheetah standing beside what appears to be the dead body of the cheetah in this story. Willem said: “We went on a sunset drive today and at 17h30 the number of vehicles still way more than 30 min away from the nearest gate or camp all obviously speeding and some occupants openly drinking alcohol. Empty alcohol cans and bottles also laying all along the road. At approximately 19h00 we came upon a cheetah sighting on the Shingwedzi Punda road. The cheetah was calling and the guide informed us that he was probably calling his brother as there were always 2 cheetah in the area. To our utter dismay we found the other cheetah dead next to the road with evidence that it was hit by a car.”
Another distressing video from May has also been going viral, showing people in a car chasing a giraffe and laughing when it falls over a fence.