Kruger management understands guide ending impala’s suffering

CROCODILE BRIDGE – A tour guide was recently forced to commit a terrible but necessary act of kindness, when he euthanised a severely injured animal in the Kruger National Park (KNP).

On Tuesday the experienced guide, Mr Bretton Lahner, was travelling with visitors in an open safari vehicle to the Crocodile Bridge section when they came across the gruesome sight of an impala that had been hit by a speeding vehicle and was still alive. Her back and legs were broken and entrails were hanging from her anus.

It was obvious to Lahner that she had been “very recently, severely hit by a vehicle at a great speed. I can’t see an animal suffer. If it has been injured through natural events, I will do nothing,” he said.

“If it is suffering because of human carelessness, like in this case, I will help it out of its suffering.”

“There were a few cars present and everyone was highly upset with the still living, but clearly crippled impala. I got out of my vehicle, cut the animal’s throat and moved it off the road. There were a few cars that passed that may have incorrectly assumed I had hit the animal. I just ended its suffering.”

Mr William Mabasa, acting head of communications of SANParks, said to Laevelder: “The rules of the park prohibit anyone from getting out of their vehicle anywhere else in the park unless it in the designated areas such as camps and picnic spots. However, we appreciate what Lahner did under the circumstance because we understand that his action was not meant to infringe any rule but to relieve the injured impala of its suffering. The person we are looking for is the one who injured the animal so that we can get clarity of what actually happened in this case if they are willing to come forward and talk to us.”

The incident happened on the H4-2 between Lower Sabie and Crocodile Bridge, about one kilometre north of the southern entrance to Mativulungu. Lahner was upfront with the Kruger authorities about this incident. He immediately reported it to the section ranger, Mr Neels van Wyk and his South African Tourism manager.

It is against the KNP’s policy to leave a vehicle, a fact that Lahner is very aware of. He has been an experienced and well-loved guide in various parks since 1995. He said it is always “safety first” with him and this was also very much on his mind when he got out of the vehicle.

He had a “good look around. The upside is that the injured and struggling impala would have drawn any watching predator in a flash. Kruger cats and even the wild dogs often use vehicles for cover when stalking their prey and this poor creature had been there for at least five minutes”.

An eyewitness, Ms Karen Brown, who was on the vehicle with Lahner, said she knows “it went against the grain with Lahner, but it was something he had to do. Not easy for a man so passionate about animals and the bush”.



Elize Parker
Environmental Journalist Lowvelder

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