HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) – A 71-year-old South African tourist was trampled to death by an elephant “in sight” of his son in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park, the parks agency said Thursday. country, days after another fatal elephant encounter occurred in a separate park.
A “helpless” elephant this week indicted the tourist and her 41-year-old son as they walked the park in the morning, Tinashe Farawo, spokesperson for the Land Management Authority, told The Associated Press. Zimbabwe’s parks and wildlife.
Mana Pools is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its splendid setting along the Zambezi River and the surrounding floodplain teeming with elephants and other wildlife.
Michael Bernard Walsh, a Cape Town vet, was a “loyal tourist” who visited Mana Pools “almost every year” for 35 years, Farawo said.
The father-son duo had left their car about 40 meters (44 meters) from the scene of the incident. “Due to his age, unfortunately, the old man could not escape to the vehicle. His son watched the elephant kill his father, ”Farawo said.
“We are extremely concerned because two people were killed in a single week,” he said, referring to an earlier death in which an anti-poaching coordinator of a conservation group was trampled to death by a elephant in Victoria Falls, western Zimbabwe.
Clever Kapandura, operations coordinator of the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, a non-governmental organization, was part of a team of scouts deployed to investigate reports of a possible poaching incident. “For some reason,” an elephant bull charged about 120 meters (130 meters) away and grabbed the man and killed him, the organization said in a statement.
Zimbabwe’s national parks and environmental groups report increasing cases of human-wildlife conflict in recent years. More than 40 people have died from such conflicts in Zimbabwe’s parks and other rural areas so far this year, Farawo said.
Like other parks in Zimbabwe, Mana Pools experiences hot, dry weather this time of year, limiting food and water sources for the thousands of elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, wild dogs, hyenas. , zebras, elk and other animals.
As a result, animals are making forays into nearby human communities in search of water, crops and livestock for food, Farawo said.
Zimbabwe has around 85,000 elephants and neighboring Botswana has over 130,000. Both countries have the largest elephant populations in the world. The two southern African countries say they are struggling to cope with the growing numbers of elephants and are pushing to be allowed to sell their stock of ivory tusks that have been seized from poachers. They say funds raised from the sale of ivory would be used for conservation and to reduce congestion in drought-stricken parks.
Other African countries, notably Kenya, are opposed to any sale of ivory.
“We are now sounding like a broken record, saying that our animals, especially elephants, are overcrowded and they are becoming a danger to themselves by destroying their own habitat and they are also killing people,” Farawo said. . “We receive distress calls from communities almost every day. “
Zimbabwe’s parks agency said it had no plans to export baby elephants to China, denying recent reports from a wildlife conservation group. Zimbabwe was criticized a few years ago for sending elephants to China where they were placed in zoos.
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