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Charging elephant kills 79-year-old American tourist on Zambian safari – National


An 79-year-old American tourist was killed during a national park safari in Zambia after a bull elephant charged the vehicle carrying six tourists and a tour guide on Saturday.

The elephant attacked the car as it travelled through Kafue National Park in western Zambia, the tour operation company Wilderness told NBC News in a statement.

In shocking video from the incident, recorded by someone inside the safari vehicle, the large elephant can first be seen running at a distance behind a tree line. As the elephant continues its speedy approach, many of the tourists can be heard uttering “Uh-oh,” and “It’s coming fast.”

There’s several seconds of chase until the safari car comes to a slow stop. According to Wilderness’ CEO Keith Vincent, this is because the tour guide’s route became blocked by vegetation and tough terrain and he, as a result, “could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough.”

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The passengers in the safari car can be heard shouting as the elephant approaches the vehicle’s left side. Using its large tusks, the bull elephant flips the car, seemingly toppling its occupants out onto the dry grass.

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The 79-year-old American traveller died after the incident, though no further information about the death has been released.

The safari company said another woman was also injured and was taken to a medical facility in South Africa. Four others were treated for minor injuries as a result of the elephant attack.

It is unclear why the elephant became so aggressive. The incident is currently being investigated by local police and the department of national parks and wildlife.

Vincent described the tour guide, and all tour guides at the company, as “extremely well trained and experienced.”

“This is a tragic event and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the guest who died,” Vincent said. “We are also, naturally, supporting those guests and the guide involved in this distressing incident.”

The 79-year-old woman’s body will be repatriated to the U.S. with support from Zambian authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital city.

Wilderness operates safari tours in eight African countries: Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The elephant attack comes at a time when some African countries have expressed concern over the increasing number of elephants in certain regions. On Wednesday, Botswana’s president Mokgweetsi Masisi called the country’s increasing elephant population (which has grown to some 130,000) a “plague.”

Amid a tense dispute about conservation between Masisi and German officials, Masisi threatened to send 20,000 elephants to Germany. The threat came as officials in Berlin have eyed restrictions on hunting trophies, like ivory tusks.

Masisi said herds of wild elephants have been causing issues in Botswana, damaging property, devouring crops and even trampling citizens.

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