A German tourist in Zimbabwe was trampled to death when she tried to take a picture of an elephant and ended up too close to the animal’s path.
The incident happened in Mana Pools National Park, where authorities said the 49-year-old German woman was part of a group who came across a herd of elephants when they entered the park. As the New York Post reported, the group was warned to stay away from the wild animals, but the woman did not heed the advice.
“We are always asking people to stay away from wild animals; they should keep a safe distance,” a park spokesman said.
It was not clear exactly how the woman was killed, but authorities said elephant deaths are not uncommon in Zimbabwe, especially among farmers who often come into contact with the wild animals.
This is also not the first person to lose their life after getting too close to an elephant at a tourist attraction in Zimbabwe. Last year, an elephant handler was killed when an elephant that used to give rides to tourists charged at the man and trampled him to death. As the BBC reported, no one witnessed the attack itself but did hear the man’s screams as the elephant overtook him.
The attack came despite the elephant-ride tours being accompanied by an armed guard who has medical supplies and a radio to call for help if needed. It was a bloody and disturbing scene, a witness reported.
“I heard him screaming and crying for help, but it was just for seconds,” the witness told Zimbabwe’s Newsday newspaper.
“I then rushed to check on him and that is when I met the elephants walking on the road and I spotted Mbanje [the elephant] following from behind covered with blood all over. My blood went cold and I already knew what I was about to witness… he was torn apart, all body parts were ravaged.”
Afterward, the victim’s son reportedly had to go to the scene to retrieve his father’s body, with parts strewn across the area.
The epidemic is not isolated to Africa. A nearly identical incident took place last year in Nepal when an elephant killed a tourist.
The story of the elephant trampling the German tourist to death has generated international attention, with news outlets across the globe picking up the story and many commenting on social media. Some of them blamed the tourism industry in Zimbabwe for bringing people to close to the animal’s natural habitat.