22 June 2005

Bull elephant tramples guide to death

A guide at Knysna Elephant Park between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay was trampled to death on Tuesday by a bull elephant as he took it for a morning walk.

Park owner Lisette Withers said ranger Tobias Ndlovu, 32, was leading the 72-year-old elephant, Harry, to a barrier about 10:00 when the man apparently tripped and landed under the animal's feet.

Two other rangers looked on helplessly while the elephant "lifted up" Ndlovu and then trampled him.

Withers said the park's elephants were not kept in camps, but wandered around "freely". This had left the management even more puzzled about the accident.

Ndlovu, originally from Zimbabwe, had worked for 18 months with the elephants. He lived in the park with some of the other workers.

Withers said the park's 12 elephants had always been "calm and peaceful" and had never before gone on a rampage. The accident was the first of its kind they had had.

Was one of first at park
Withers said: "We believe it was an accident and have begun an investigation. Harry is being kept in a camp at present and it does not seem as if he knows that he did wrong."

The park was founded 11 years ago with Harry and an elephant cow called Sally as the first residents.

Withers said the park's elephants had entertained, "educated" and enriched the lives of countless people.

"The accident was a great shock to us, and all the workers and their families are being given counselling," she said.

She thanked people for their support and said funeral arrangements would be made for Ndlovu this week.

He leaves a wife, Zhippa, and three children.

"It is important to us to continue our educational task. The park provides work for 55 people. We do not intend to have Harry put down," said Withers.

Source: www.news24.com


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