According to the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa, Van Zyl went missing on 7 April while assisting Zimbabwean operator, Tokkie van der Merwe, on safari in the Chikwarakwara area, in the Beitbridge East district bordering South Africa.
“As soon as he realised that Van Zyl was missing, Van Der Merwe contacted the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association (ZPHGA) as well as the Limpopo Hunters Liaison Forum (LHLF) and activated a search and rescue operation.
The ZPHGA and LHLF then contacted various operators in the area on both sides of the South African and Zimbabwean border for ground and air support,” PHASA said.
A group of local fishermen directed the ground team to Van Zyl’s backpack on a bank on the Zimbabwe side of the Limpopo River.
On Sunday 9 April PHASA asked a sub-aqua team to search the river. The search was unsuccessful.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) and the Beitbridge Rural District Council (BBRDC) then issued a permit to shoot three Nile crocodiles as part of the investigation. Two crocodiles were shot late on Wednesday afternoon on 12 April.
Post-mortems were conducted at the scene and stomach contents collected for forensic and DNA analysis.
A post-mortem produced the toe-cap of a CAT boot similar to that worn by Van Zyl when he disappeared. Test results from South African authorities confirmed that samples from the stomach contents matched Van Zyl’s DNA.