‘Tame’ jumbo turns on, kills its han­dler

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - PETA THORNY­CROFT

A “DOMESTICATED” ele­phant at Zim­babwe’s main tourist re­sort, Vic­to­ria Falls, charged and killed one of its han­dlers last Satur­day.

The dead man, Enock Ku­fan­dada, 50, a guide in the tourist re­sort, was pre­par­ing to put Mbanje, the ele­phant, into a pad­dock when it turned and charged at him and ripped his body apart.

Mbanje, who was about 30, had been giv­ing tourists rides ear­lier in the day.

Zim­babwe Parks and Wildlife Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity rangers were called and they shot and killed the rag­ing ele­phant.

Po­lice con­firmed that Ku­fan­dada worked at the Vic­to­ria Falls tourist com­pany, Ad­ven­ture Zone, for more than 10 years. Ku­fan­dada’s son, Shep­herd, said his father’s death was a “great shock”, as he was the only mem­ber of the fam­ily with a job.

Brent Wil­liamson, who owns and runs Ad­ven­ture Zone, said he was also “shocked” at the turn of events, as his com­pany has been pro­vid­ing ele­phant rides for sev­eral years. He said he spoke with “deep re­gret… that our domesticated ele­phant bull Mbanje charged at one of our staff, which re­sulted in one of our guides los­ing his life.” He said Mbanje orig­i­nally came from the Na­tional Parks culling pro­gramme.

Glyn­nis Vaughan, chief in­spec­tor of the Zim­babwe Na­tional So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals, ZNSPCA, dis­putes that African ele­phants are ever “domesticated”.

She said: “Cap­tured ele­phants, which were used by sev­eral tourist com­pa­nies, have killed quite a few peo­ple in re­cent years.”

ZNSPCA went to court more than 10 years ago and suc­cess­fully pros­e­cuted an ele­phant cap­turer and a ma­jor tourist com­pany in Vic­to­ria Falls, which was buy­ing young ele­phants to do­mes­ti­cate them for rides. Trag­i­cally, an­other two ele­phants, which roamed around provin­cial cap­i­tal Mutare in east­ern Zim­babwe, were shot dead by gov­ern­ment rangers af­ter they killed a po­lice of­fi­cer last week. – For­eign Ser­vice

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