A toddler has died and her mother is fighting for her life after the pair were reportedly trampled by a giraffe on a South African game preserve. The incident happened around 4pm local time on Wednesday at the luxury Kuleni Game Park in KwaZulu-Natal province on the country's east coast, per the BBC. The child, described as 16 months old, "was taken to a nearest doctor's room, where she died and the mother, aged 25, was taken to [a] hospital, where she is reported to be in ... critical condition," a police rep tells TimesLIVE. Reports describe the pair as locals. The BBC reports they lived on the preserve, while one local outlet describes the mother as a tour guide at the park.
Officers didn't identify the location of the attack within the sprawling park, which includes 14 lodges, per the BBC. Its website notes visitors can "enjoy close encounters with animals while walking or cycling the numerous trails," though they're reminded to keep a safe distance, as wild animals are unpredictable. Giraffes are found in game lodges across South Africa and are rarely hostile. However, males can become aggressive during mating season, and females can become aggressive when protecting calves, per the Sun. The outlet describes photos showing the giraffe dead "next to the family's crushed car," adding it's unclear if the animal was shot dead during or after the attack. An investigation is ongoing. (More South Africa stories.)