Thursday, 9 June 2011

Elephant Kills Victoria Falls Safari Lodge Guide

On June 8, tragedy struck at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, when the lodge’s Head Guide Tendekai Madzivanzira was killed by an elephant in full musth.

Madzivanzira, who had years of experience, had escorted an international guest from the hotel to the nearby Siduli Hide on an armed walk at 16h00. The hide is close to a waterhole frequented by a variety of game and while the guest was inside the hide, a number of animals visited the waterhole, including a bull elephant in full musth.

The bull chased off another four elephants that had made their way to the water to drink and, after some time, the bull elephant started to move off. It was at this time (18h00) that, while Madzivanzira was escorting his guest back to the lodge, the bull spotted them and started to charge. According to the guest, Madzivanzira grabbed her arm and instructed her to run but by this stage the elephant was too close. Madzivanzira then instructed her to climb a nearby tree and stumbled as he turned to face the elephant as he discharged his weapon. The elephant hit the guide tossing him to the ground.

Efforts by observers and staff whistling and shouting from the lodge’s balcony to try to distract the charging bull elephant were to no avail. The elephant eventually ran off and staff members and a medical team were on site to rescue the guest from the tree and attend to Madzivanzira, who had been fatally wounded. Senior management from Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and experienced wildlife experts, in co-ordination with the National Parks and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), were called to secure the area and to conduct further investigations into the matter.

Once news of the incident had reached Africa Albida Tourism’s head office by 18h30, Madzivanzira the various management staff were deployed to assist with contacting family and immediate grief counselling ensued with the guide’s family and the guests.

While in transit today to Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, Ross Kennedy, Africa Albida Tourism’s Chief Executive, said: “It is a very sad and shocking thing to have happened and we will do everything we can do to provide support for Tendekai’s family. I‘ve been told the staff at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge have been amazing in dealing with the situation and I have to say a big thank you to all of them. This is the first time in the 17 years of the lodge being open that something like this has ever happened and as much as we train our staff for a worst case scenario when living in the bush with wild animals, you still never think an incident like this is ever going to take place. Tendekai was a skilled professional who had the respect of his wildlife peers and conservation colleagues, along with all clients, staff, and the community as a whole”

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