A two-year-old boy was attacked and killed in the South African Kruger National Park by a leopard.
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The animal managed to gain access to the employees' living quarters and rape the child of a park employee. He was taken to the hospital by family members but declared dead on arrival, park officials said.
The park said in a statement that such attacks are "very rare but always tragic when they occur".
The leopard was knocked down to prevent him from attacking another person, Kruger National Park spokesman Ike Paahla told ABC News. Paahla said the animal has shown signs of losing its natural fear of humans.
"About two weeks ago our rangers discovered that this particular leopard was showing signs of getting used to humans, and they set up cages to try and catch them." The rangers tracked him and shot him as a cause assuming that he could attack humans again, "Paahla said 1
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Park visitors follow strict rules to be safe from animals such as closing gates and traveling in groups, Paahla said adding that a leopard is "unlikely" to attack a mature adult, but "a chance with a child between 2 and 6 years old could go down ".
He said that the people who visit and work in the park are as well protected as possible because the accommodations are fenced in to keep animals away but said, "unfortunately, sometimes they find ways to get in."
"We have to respect that they are wild animals," he said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the South African National Park Fundisile Mketeni expressed his condolences to the deceased's family.
"Our prayers and thoughts are with the family at this difficult time, we wish them strength and will give them all the support they need as an organization," Mketeni said in the statement.
"It's never easy to lose a loved one, especially in such tragic circumstances," the statement added.
Everyone involved receives moral support and professional advice, KNP management said.