Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - www.zambezibookcompany.com

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Elephant shot dead after trampling handler to death as British tourists waited for rides at Victoria Falls

An elephant was shot dead after trampling his handler to death as British tourists queued for rides on the animal at popular holiday hot-spot, Victoria Falls.
Mbajane the bull elephant, which translates to 'cannabis', charged at Enock Kufandada, 50, before repeatedly stamping his body into the ground on the Zambia - Zimbabwe border.
Park rangers were called in to control the horrific scene as officials ushered tourists from the UK, America and Australia to safety.
Mbajane was still in a rage and deemed a danger to others after the incident so he was brought down and killed with several high velocity bullets.
Workers said Mr Kufandada had been attacked twice before by the same elephant but survived.
Clement Mukwasi of the Employers Association of Tourism and Safari Operators said “The profession of elephant handling is a high risk one and deaths happen.
“We can confirm this sad incident which is the third in the last 10 years” he said.
Handler Mr Kufandada appears to have his left arm torn off along with both legs and it is not clear if he has been impaled with the stick used to control the elephant.
His blood soaked body was covered with sack cloth until the local police force had been called to the scene and then it was removed from the tourist area at Victoria Falls.
Mr Mukwasi hinted that elephants can “keep grudges” for many years against a handler if it has ever been mistreated during the process of training it for tourist rides.
Witnesses told local media that they heard screams and found the dead body torn apart and the 30-year-old bull elephant nearby clearly still enraged and in a bad temper.
The World Animal Protection action group said in a statement that the incident was "another sad reminder that elephants are wild animals and should not be ridden."
Two years ago a curio-seller was trampled to death by an elephant which had strayed into a shopping centre in Victoria Falls which is on the border with Zambia.
Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claims African elephants can never be “domesticated”.
She said: “Captured elephants which are used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years. We should not be surprised when there are tragedies.
“Elephants are captured in the wild when they are young and taken from their families and teaching a young elephant to kneel so a tourist an mount it is vicious and it is cruel”.
Several large companies in Victoria Falls still provide rides for tourists on their elephants, most of which were captured and taken from their families.
There are a number of companies at Victoria Falls - one of Africa's most spectacular places to visit - which cater for tourist rides on African elephants.
Just last week game rangers shot and killed two other elephants which had roamed into the provincial capital of Mutare, East Zimbabwe, and killed a policeman.
Bankrupt Zimbabwe has been exporting dozens of young elephants to China in recent years for wildlife safari parks that have since been condemned by inspectors.
Tour operators at the Falls desperate to protect their livelihoods said the killing of the professional elephant handler was "a freak accident - one in a million".
Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers shot and killed the elephant which was used by the tour operator Adventure Zone.
Mr Kufandada was preparing to take the bull elephant which he had worked with for many years out of its pen for a tourist ride when it attacked and killed him.
Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent of police Jairos Chiwona said: "I confirm we received a report of a man who was attacked and killed by a domesticated elephant".
The rogue elephant Mbanje was grazing with a female jumbo called Nkanyiso after a ride and was about to go out for another after a group of tourists arrived for a ride.
The victims’ son Shepherd said: “We were told my father was rounding up the elephant when he was attacked. I don’t know what we will do as he was the breadwinner.
“I went with my fathers workmates to help pick up the scattered body parts”.
The married father-of-two will be buried at his rural home village of Mutare.
Adventure Zone boss Mr Brent Wlliamson said: “I am in complete shock about the whole incident. This was one of our guides who had been working for us since 2005.
“It's with deep regret that we advise that at 2.30pm on Saturday our domesticated elephant bull charged one of our staff that resulted in him losing his life.
“Clement was an extremely competent member of staff who will be sorely missed” he said.


More on this story (external links):
Trained elephant kills handler (The Chronicle, 23/07/17))
Elephant 'domesticated' to give tourist rides at Victoria Falls kills handler (The Telegraph, 24/07/17)
Elephant used for tourist rides tramples handler to death before being shot dead  (The Independent, 25/07/17)
SA’s elephant industry under pressure to end elephant rides (10/06/17)
The truth behind elephant back riding in South Africa (25/11/16)
Can elephant tourism be ethical? (The Telegraph, 02/02/16)
Breaking Africa's elephants (pdf report, World Animal Protection Canada)

More captive elephant incidents (from this blog):  Captive elephant used in tourist elephant-back safaris kills handler (Livingstone, Zambia) (02/04/13)
Captive Elephant Used In Tourism Safaris Kills Handler In Victoria Falls (19/12/08)
Elephant-back Safaris “Simply Accidents Waiting to Happen” Warns Top Tourism Insurer (10/0/17)

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