African bush elephant in Kruger National park, South Africa charging
File Photo - African bush elephant charging open ears in Kruger National park, South Africa. Photo: iStockPhoto

South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms. Barbara Creecy, today paid a hospital visit to Joe Nkuna, the SANParks ranger who was injured by an elephant at the Kruger National Park (KNP).

Nkuna, a ranger with 32 years of experience, was hospitalised on 20 December 2022 after being charged by an elephant while patrolling the Pretoriuskop section of the park. The severity of his injuries resulted in him being placed on life support in the Intensive Care Unit at a private hospital in Johannesburg where he is making a steady recovery. The medical team is pleased with his progress and is excited that he will be starting physiotherapy soon.

The Minister was delighted to find the 57-year-old in good spirits and feeling hopeful about his recovery prospects. “I am here this morning to not only remind him he is part of the conservation family but to wish him well as he recovers from his injuries,” the Minister said.

“What happened to Ranger Nkuna was tragic and I am glad I was able to speak to him. I can say Mr Nkuna is a remarkably brave man. He has endured multiple surgeries since the accident; but he has told me he cannot wait to get back in the bush patrolling, doing the job he is very passionate about. Rangers are our heroes and face danger every time they go into the bush to perform their duties.”