Tourist, 71, is crushed to death by an elephant in front of his son at Zimbabwe park: Elderly victim could not get away when beast charged the two men
- The tuskless female elephant charged at Michael Bernard Walsh at Mana Pools
- The tourist was unable to escape to his car parked 40 yards away in the park
- The South African vet had been travelling to Mana Pools every year for 35 years
A 71-year-old South African tourist has been trampled to death by an elephant in front of his son at a Zimbabwe safari park.
Michael Bernard Walsh, a vet from Cape Town, was charged at by the ‘tuskless’ female elephant at Mana Pools.
The ‘loyal tourist’, who had been visiting the park almost every year for the past 35 years, was taking a morning walk with his 41-year-old son at the time.
A 71-year-old South African tourist has been trampled to death by an elephant in front of his son at Mana Pools (pictured: file image of elephants at the park)
The pair had left their car about 40 yards from the scene of the incident.
Tinashe Farawo, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, said: ‘Because of age, unfortunately, the old man couldn’t escape to the vehicle. His son watched as the elephant killed his father.
‘We are extremely concerned because two people have been killed in one week alone,’ he said, referring to an earlier fatality in which an anti-poaching coordinator with a conservation group was trampled to death by an elephant in Victoria Falls in western Zimbabwe.
Clever Kapandura, an operations coordinator for the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, a non-governmental organisation, was part of a team of scouts deployed to investigate reports of a possible poaching incident.
Clever Kapandura (pictured), an operations coordinator for the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, was killed by an elephant earlier this week in Zimbabwe
‘For some unknown reason’ an elephant bull charged from about 130 yards away and seized the man and killed him.
Zimbabwe’s national parks and environmental groups are reporting increasing cases of conflict between humans and wildlife in recent years.
More than 40 people have died from such conflicts in parks and other rural areas in Zimbabwe so far this year, said Farawo.
Like other parks in Zimbabwe, Mana Pools experiences hot, dry weather at this time of the year, limiting food and water sources for the thousands of elephants, lions, buffaloes, zebras, wild dogs, hyenas, zebras, elands and other animals.
As a result, the animals make forays into neighbouring human communities in search of water, crops and livestock for food, said Farawo.
Zimbabwe has an estimated 85,000 elephants and Botswana has more than 130,000. The two countries have the world’s largest elephant populations.
Michael Bernard Walsh, a vet from Cape Town, was charged at by the ‘tuskless’ female elephant at the park (file image)
The two southern African countries say they are struggling to cope with the booming numbers of elephants and are pressing to be allowed to sell their stockpile of ivory tusks that have been seized from poachers.
They say the funds raised from the ivory sales would be used for conservation and ease congestion in the drought-affected parks.
Other African countries, especially Kenya, are opposed to any sale of ivory.
‘We are now sounding like a broken record, saying that our animals, especially elephants, are overpopulated and they are becoming a danger unto themselves by destroying their own habitat and they are also killing people,’ said Farawo. ‘We receive distress calls from communities almost every day.’
Zimbabwe’s parks agency said it has no plans to export baby elephants to China, denying recent reports by a wildlife conservation group.
Zimbabwe was criticized a few years ago for sending elephants to China where they were put in zoos.