Scott Van Zyl
Father-of-two Scott Van Zyl was killed by crocodiles during a hunt in ZimbabweHeritage Protection Group

Investigators have confirmed that a South African hunter who went missing in Zimbabwe has been killed and eaten by crocodiles.

Scott Van Zyl, a professional hunter who accompanies clients on hunting trips, disappeared during a safari on the banks of the Limpopo river last week.

Sakkie Louwrens, director of a South-African crime-fighting NGO, said that Van Zyl was accompanied by a local tracker and a pack of dogs as they set off on the hunt along the border. After leaving their vehicle, they headed in different directions in search of crocodiles.

When Van Zyl's dogs returned to the camp without him, a search-and-rescue operation was launched. Police found his rucksack and were able to retrace his footsteps along the riverbank.

Staff from the Heritage Protection Group, which helps police fight crime in South Africa, informally helped the Zimbabwean authorities conduct the search, explained Louwrens.

"Permission was given for three Nile crocodiles in the area to be shot, and one of them contained Mr Van Zyl's remains," he said. "Subsequent DNA tests have proved the remains to be those of Mr Van Zyl."

'Senseless' death

According to BBC News, conservation group One Green Planet has said the death of the hunter, who was married with two children was "senseless".

"[He] shouldn't have been hunting in the first place. Animals in the wild ... are wild! They are living, thinking beings with instincts for survival," they said in a statement.

The reports have sparked a strong reaction on social media as images of the trophy hunter posing with a dead leopard and antelope emerged online.

At least four fatal attacks by crocodiles have been reported in Zimbabwe this year. Last year a 13-year-old boy died while fishing to pay for his school fees, The Independent reports.