Johannesburg: South African rangers were on Thursday trying to apprehend a group of elephants that escaped from a game reserve and waded into a rural area, wildlife authorities said.
A helicopter had located about 10 tusked animals and was attempting to herd them back to the eastern wildlife park they broke out overnight, authorities said.
Rangers were hoping to have all the runaway pachyderms safely within the Ithala reserve's boundaries by Friday, said Musa Mntambo, a spokesman for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife - a governmental organisation managing wildlife in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
It was not immediately clear how the elephants broke loose.
Mntambo said animals sometimes cross a river bordering the game reserve.
But parks in the area have also had trouble with local residents and poachers cutting down or stealing perimetral fences.
Hunters poke holes in the security perimeter to access the park illegally but "don't close the fence" when they leave, Mntambo said.
"By the time we are aware that the fence has been cut, there might be one or two animals out already," he told AFP.
Last year, six lions were put down after they escaped from the nearby Hluhluwe game reserve and started killing livestock and terrorising people living in the area.
Authorities urged locals to report fence-cutting incidents, saying these caused unnecessary costs and placed "the lives of innocent community members at risk of being attacked by dangerous wild animals".