Leopard kills toddler at Kruger National Park staff quarters
A two-and-a-half-year-old was killed by a leopard at the Kruger National Park on Wednesday night, the park confirmed on Thursday.
The staff member's son was attacked at the Malelane Technical Services living quarters about 8pm.
The boy was certified dead by doctors at the Shongwe Hospital after being taken there by family members.
SA National Parks CEO Fundisile Mketeni has extended his condolences to the family.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with the family during this trying time. We wish them strength and will give them all the support they need as an organisation.
"It is never easy to lose a loved one, especially under such tragic circumstances.
"This is the risk we live with daily as we help conserve our species for the benefit of all. May the young toddler's soul rest in eternal peace," said Mketeni.
Park officials said rangers immediately went out in search for the animal on hearing of the attack.
"The offending animal was found and shot dead to remove the danger of another person falling victim."
Commenting on how the attack could have occurred, Kruger National Park said: "In parks such as KNP, predators do interact with tourists and staff and at times this may result in species like leopards getting habituated to people and losing their fear of them. The change in natural behaviour can then lead to unfortunate incidents such as this.
"This is an unfortunate risk that staff experience when having to live and work in environments like the park. These events are very rare occurrences, but always tragic when they do occur."
The park management has sent a delegation to the family to provide support and professional counselling.
The name of the child has been withheld to ensure all family members have been notified.