Handler's body ripped apart
A “domesticated” elephant at Zimbabwe’s main tourist resort, Victoria Falls, charged and killed one of its handlers last Saturday. The dead man, Enock Kufandada, 50, a guide in the tourist resort, was preparing to put Mbanje, the elephant, into a paddock when it turned and charged at him and ripped his body apart.
Mbanje, who was about 30, had been giving tourists rides earlier in the day.
Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers were called and they shot and killed the raging elephant.
Police confirmed thatKufandada, worked at the Victoria Falls tourist company, Adventure Zone, for more then 10 years.
Kufandada’s son, Shepherd said his father’s death was a “great shock” as he was the only member of the family with a job.
Brent Williamson, who owns and runs Adventure Zone said he was also “shocked” at the turn of events as his company has been providing elephant rides for several years. He said he spoke with “deep regret…that our domesticated elephant bull, Mbanje charged at one of our staff which resulted in one of our guides losing his life.” He said Kufandada was a most “respected” staff member who worked for the company for 11 years.
Adventure Zone owned two elephants and the surviving one who lived along side Mbanje, is a cow, Nkanyezi, who was 28-years-old.
He said Mbanje originally came from the National Parks culling programme,
Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ZNSPCA disputes that African elephants are ever “domesticated.” She said: “Captured elephants which were used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years.
“We should not be surprised when there are tragedies after elephants are captured in the wild when they are young, and taken from their families. Teaching a young elephant to get on to its knees so that people can mount it is vicious, it’s cruel.”
ZNSPCA went to court more then 10 years ago and successfully prosecuted an elephant capturer and a major tourist company in Victoria Falls which was buying young elephants to domesticate them for rides for tourists.
Several large companies in Victoria Falls still provide rides for tourists on their elephants most of which were captured and taken from their families.
Tragically another two elephants, which roamed around provincial capital, Mutare, in eastern Zimbabwe, were shot dead today by government rangers after they killed a policeman last week.
Zimbabwe has tens of thousands of elephants, mostly in the west and the south, more then its wild life areas can cope with given many recent droughts and because poachers have made huge parts of north eastern Zimbabwe hostile territory for elephants.
In the last few years bankrupt Zimbabwe has exported scores of young elephants to China which were captured by the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority on behalf of several Chinese safari parks. ZNSPCA recently inspected some quarantine areas in China where Zimbabwe elephants were held and has condemned them.