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File photo: Giraffes are seen in Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. Image Credit: Reuters

Johannesburg: A giraffe crushed to death a 16-month-old toddler in an eastern region of South Africa on Wednesday, police said, in a rare attack by the world's tallest mammal.

The attack occurred at a game farm around 270 kilometres northeast of the port city of Durban.

Police spokeswoman Nqobile Gwala said in a text message to AFP that a 25-year-old mother and her 16-month-old daughter were attacked around 1400 GMT at Kuleni Farm in the Hluhluwe area "when they were trampled by a giraffe".

She said the girl was taken to a nearby doctor's practice "where she died", while the mother was rushed to hospital for medical attention where she is in a critical condition.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Giraffes do not usually attack humans.