elephant safari
Mayukh Saha
Mayukh Saha
May 8, 2024 ·  2 min read

American Tourist, 79, Killed By Elephant While on Safari

A safari adventure in Zambia turned deadly on the morning of March 30th when an “aggressive” bull elephant attacked a vehicle carrying tourists in Kafue National Park. The incident resulted in the tragic loss of an elderly American tourist and injured several others.

Attack Unfolds During Morning Game Drive Safari

According to a statement released by Wilderness, the safari operator, the attack occurred during a game drive with six guests and a guide departing from Lufupa Camp. An unexpected charge from a bull elephant targeted the vehicle, leaving the occupants with little time to react.

Wilderness CEO Keith Vincent elaborated on the incident, explaining that the safari guide’s vehicle was obstructed by the surrounding terrain at the crucial moment. “Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced,” Vincent stated, “but sadly in this instance, the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough.

79-year-old Gail Mattison enjoying her Safari trip
Image Credits: DailyMail

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Immediate Response and Ongoing Investigation

Following the attack, park management at Kafue National Park was promptly notified, and a helicopter was dispatched to the scene. Local authorities, including the Zambian Department of National Parks & Wildlife, are collaborating on a comprehensive investigation. Wilderness is fully cooperating with the process.

This is a tragic event and we extend our deepest condolences to the family of the guest who died,” Vincent expressed in the statement. The company is also prioritizing support for the remaining tourists and the guide involved in the distressing incident.

The remains of the elderly woman, identified by her family as 79-year-old Gail Mattson, are being prepared for repatriation to the United States. Local Zambian authorities and the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka are facilitating this process.

Similar Incident Raises Concerns

This tragic event comes just weeks after another unsettling encounter between a bull elephant and a safari vehicle. Last month, in Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa, a bull elephant was filmed lifting a 22-seat safari truck with its trunk. Thankfully, that incident resulted in no casualties. However, it highlights the potential dangers inherent in wildlife encounters, even on guided tours.

As investigations into the Kafue National Park attack continue, the incident serves as a stark reminder of the importance of safety protocols during wildlife safaris. Maintaining a safe distance from wild animals and adhering to established park regulations remain crucial for a responsible and enjoyable wildlife viewing experience.

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