A 71-year-old South African tourist was trampled to death by an elephant. The incident occurred in Mana Pools National Park along the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe.
A spokesperson for Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Tinashe Farawo, said in a Twitter post Wednesday that Michael Bernard Walsh, a veterinarian from Cape Town, was trampled in front of his 41-year-old son. Farawo added that the man has been visiting the park since 1986.
The Associated Press reported that the duo was charged by a tuskless female elephant as they took a morning walk in the park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its abundance of wildlife, including elephants.
The father and son had left their car 40 meters (44 yards) away from the scene of the incident, but Farawo said that because of his age Walsh was unable to get back to the safety of the vehicle.
“We are extremely concerned because two people have been killed in one week alone,” Farawo added, referencing the death of the member of an anti-poaching unit Clever Kapandura on Friday, October 8.
Kapandura, a member of the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit, was killed when he was attacked by a charging bull elephant while responding to a report of poaching in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
The team members who were with Kapandura at the time said they did not know why the elephant attacked the group, charging at them from a distance of 120 meters.
The Associated Press reported that authorities in Zimbabwe’s national parks are witnessing an increase in confrontations between animals and humans. Farawo added that more than 40 people have died this year as a result of such animal encounters.
The Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesperson added that he believes this is because hot dry weather in Mana Pools and other parks is driving animals into neighboring human communities as they search for water.
In 2014, it was estimated that Zimbabwe has a population of around 83,000 elephants. This is the second-largest elephant population in the world after Botswana, which plays host to 130,000 elephants in 2021.
The elephant population of Zimbabwe has increased twenty-fold since 1900 when numbers are believed to have been as low as 4,000. While the recovery of the species is positive, both countries say that they are struggling to cope with elephant numbers.
“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.”
Elephant Tramples Tourist to Death in Front of His Son – Newsweek