Man who made his living killing African wildlife gets eaten by African wildlife
April 21, 2017 – Scott Van Zyl made his living taking wealthy clients on “safaris” for the sole purpose of bringing home trophies like leopards, zebras, wildebeests and even lions. Now, investigators in Zimbabwe believe that Van Zyl ended up on the wrong end of the predator-prey relationship, and DNA tests have confirmed that he was attacked, killed, and eaten by crocodiles while on a hunting trip.
Van Zyl, who ran SS Pro Safaris, offered specials for hunters to spend a week or more on his hunting lands which border nature preserves, with the promise of killing up to seven different species for $9,000. He also offered other hunting expeditions with targets like elephants and giraffes, though specifics for those, including prices, aren’t listed on the company’s site. Photos of clients holding the bodies of several rare species are posted on Van Zyl’s site, along with the motto “Stop whining, go hunting.”
The circumstances surrounding his death are spotty, but reports suggest that Van Zyl and a second hunter and a pack of dogs. The two men split up, choosing to travel on foot alone, but when the dogs returned to the base camp without Van Zyl, his companion knew something was wrong.
His footprints were tracked to a riverbank where searchers found his backpack as well as several large Nile crocodiles. Authorities killed the crocs after getting clearance to do so and subsequently discovered human remains inside the stomach of one of them. Tests of the remains matched Van Zyl. The incident is just one of a handful of fatal crocodile attacks tallied so far in 2017 alone.
Sakkie Louwrens, the director of South African anti-poaching NGO Heritage Protection Group, said Mr Van Zyl had gone on a hunting trip on the Zimbabwean-South African border with a local tracker and a pack of dogs but the pair had separated when they went in different directions to search for crocodiles.
The alarm was raised when the dogs returned to their camp without him, the BBC reported.
Mr Van Zyl’s footprints were subsequently traced back to the river bank where his discarded rucksack was found.
The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa told The Independent the remains of Mr Van Zyl were found in two of the three crocodiles shot and traces of a material similar to that of the CAT books he was wearing where found in the third.
He was said to be an experienced hunter and had taken foreign clients on hunting trips.
Mr Louwrens said: “Permission was given for three Nile crocodiles in the area to be shot, and one of them contained Mr Van Zyl’s remains.
"Subsequent DNA tests have proved the remains to be those of Mr Van Zyl.”