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Tributes to tragic tourist, 43, crushed to death by elephant in South Africa after getting out of his car to take photos

HEARTBREAKING tributes have been paid to a tourist crushed to death by an elephant in front of his screaming fiancee in South Africa after getting out of his car to take photos.

He was horrifically crushed to death by an angry herd of elephants in a nature reserve after wanting close-up photos of them July 7.

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Cleaning firm boss Carlos Luna, 43, tragically died on Sunday morning[/caption]

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An angry herd of elephants charged towards him and trampled him[/caption]

Officials have confirmed the dead man, 43, was cleaning firm boss Carlos Luna from the town of Ejea de los Caballeros in northern Spain.

Mr Luna is reportedly got out of his car to take photos of the elephants in Pilanesberg National Park before they trampled him.

A Spanish consul in South Africa was today said to be heading to capital Pretoria to help with the repatriation of his body.

Police told local media the dead man, his fiancee and two other women were driving through the reserve when they stopped after spotting three elephants and two cubs.

The other occupants of the car were unharmed but an investigation is ongoing.

A former colleague of Mr Luna, quoted in a local newspaper, described him as a “good worker and a nice man.”

He added: “He liked motorbikes and going out on his mountain bike.”

Spanish safari agency boss Alex Lacadena told the paper he had been informed the attack happened because the matriarch elephant felt threatened when they were approached.

He said: “The first rule of a safari is not to get out of the vehicle or get up.

“When you’re in a 4×4, wild animals don’t see people, they see a block – and they only react when you do something out of the norm.”


Mr Luna is thought to have been on the safari holiday with his fiancee, joined by two of her friends from Johannesburg.

The four visitors were driving when they spotted a breeding herd with three young by a lake.

Despite his fellow passengers instructing him to get back into the car, the tourist insisted on getting close-ups of the six elephants and got out and walked towards them.

A huge 3.5 ton adult female cow protecting the young members of the herd was spooked and charged at the man, joined by two adult bulls.

The attack lasted 30 seconds.

Screaming, he raced back with his camera to safety through the bush to his friends in the car, but was overtaken by the chasing herd who knocked him down and trampled him to death.

All that witnesses said was left was left after the attack was bloody clothing and his remains.

A North-West Parks & Tourism Board spokesman said: “The elephants moved away immediately from the scene without any aggression towards the nearby vehicles and disappeared in the bushes.

“The guest was a male Spanish citizen who had entered at Bakgatia Gate with three friends and not far from the gate had come across a breeding herd of elephants feeding a distance from the road.”

Pieter Nel, from the NW Parks & Tourism Board stressed that all tourists are warned not to get out of their cars and that information is printed on their entry tickets which is not just for the safety of the guests but also the animals.

Mr Nel said: “The Board is very saddened by this tragic accident and would like to express their sincere condolences to the deceased’s next of kin and friends.”

A park ranger speaking on condition of anonymity said: “It was a very stupid thing to do and the tourist was literally shouted at to get back in his car but wanted to get photographs of the herd.”

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The Pilanesberg National Park in North West Province is 100 miles from Johannesburg Credit: Facebook[/caption]

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Bakgatia Gate in the game range in Pilanesberg National Park Credit: Facebook[/caption]

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