Elephant 'impaled his handler on the stick he used to control the animal'

EIN News
This post was originally published here

An elephant is thought to have impaled his handler on the stick he used to control the animal as a safari boss warned it may have harboured a grudge.

Enock Kufandada, 50, was charged, trampled and torn apart by a bull elephant called Mbanje in Zimbabwe before colleagues could come to his aid. They shot the animal dead.

Graphic pictures of his dismembered body seen by MailOnline show an open stab wound in his chest which may have been caused by the stick he was carrying, according to those at the scene.

Clement Mukwasi of the Employers Association of Tourism and Safari Operators hinted elephants can ‘keep grudges’ for many years against a handler if it has ever been mistreated during the process of training it for tourist rides.

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He added: “The profession of elephant handling is a high risk one and deaths happen.

“We can confirm this sad incident which is the third in the last 10 years.”

The elephant, who gave rides at Victoria Falls, was shot dead after trampling his handler to death just minutes before taking tourists out beside the famous Zambezi River.

Horrified officials ensured tourists from the UK and USA waiting for rides were kept well away from the shocking scene and called in park rangers.

Mbanje – which means ‘cannabis’ – was still in a rage and was deemed a danger to humans so it was brought down and killed with several high velocity bullets.

Workers said Mr Kufandada had been attacked twice before by the same elephant but survived.

Mr Kufandada’s blood-soaked body was covered with sack cloth until the local police force had been called to the scene and then it was removed from the tourist area at Victoria Falls.

Witnesses told local media that they heard screams and found the dead body torn apart and the 30-year-old bull elephant nearby clearly still enraged and in a bad temper.

The World Animal Protection action group said in a statement that the incident was “another sad reminder that elephants are wild animals and should not be ridden.”

The elephant called Mbanje, which translates to Cannabis, was shot dead after it was deemed he was still in a state of rage and was a danger to the public.

The elephant called Mbanje, which translates to Cannabis, was shot dead after it was deemed he was still in a state of rage and was a danger to the public.

Mr Kufandada was preparing to take the bull elephant which he had worked with for many years out of its pen for a tourist ride when it attacked and killed him.

Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent of police Jairos Chiwona said: “I confirm we received a report of a man who was attacked and killed by a domesticated elephant”.

The rogue elephant Mbanje was grazing with a female jumbo called Nkanyiso after a ride and was about to go out for another after a group of tourists arrived for a ride.

The victims’ son Shepherd said: “We were told my father was rounding up the elephant when he was attacked. I don’t know what we will do as he was the breadwinner.

“I went with my fathers workmates to help pick up the scattered body parts”.

The married father-of-two will be buried at his rural home village of Mutare.

Adventure Zone boss Mr Brent Wlliamson said: “I am in complete shock about the whole incident. This was one of our guides who had been working for us since 2005.

“It’s with deep regret that we advise that at 2.30pm on Saturday our domesticated elephant bull charged one of our staff that resulted in him losing his life.

“Clement was an extremely competent member of staff who will be sorely missed”, he said.

Two years ago a curio-seller was trampled to death by an elephant which had strayed into a shopping centre in Victoria Falls which is on the border with Zambia.

Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, claims African elephants can never be ‘domesticated’.

She said: “Captured elephants which are used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years. We should not be surprised when there are tragedies.

“Elephants are captured in the wild when they are young and taken from their families and teaching a young elephant to kneel so a tourist can mount it is vicious and it is cruel”.

Several large companies in Victoria Falls still provide rides for tourists on their elephants, most of which were captured and taken from their families.

There are a number of companies at Victoria Falls – one of Africa’s most spectacular places to visit – which cater for tourist rides on African elephants.

Just last week game rangers shot and killed two other elephants which had roamed into the provincial capital of Mutare, East Zimbabwe, and killed a policeman.

Bankrupt Zimbabwe has been exporting dozens of young elephants to China in recent years for wildlife safari parks that have since been condemned by inspectors.

Tour operators at the Falls desperate to protect their livelihoods said the killing of the professional elephant handler was “a freak accident – one in a million”.

Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers shot and killed the elephant which was used by the tour operator Adventure Zone.