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HomeGeneralCharging Elephant Kills US Tourist on Safari in Zambia

Charging Elephant Kills US Tourist on Safari in Zambia

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An elderly American woman was killed in Zambia after an elephant charged at a vehicle carrying tourists in Kafue National Park. According to the safari company Wilderness, the “aggressive” elephant unexpectedly charged at the truck. The truck carried guests and a guide on a morning excursion through wild areas.

A picture of Elephants
Source: Pinterest

The woman was riding in with other tourists on a game drive in a Zambian national park, flipping over the vehicle and killing her, the safari company said. It wasn’t clear what upset the elephant. But in a video widely circulated online, the pachyderm is seen menacingly charging through the bushy terrain toward the tourists’ vehicle.

Reports From the Company 

A man is heard shouting, “Hey, hey, hey,” in an apparent but futile effort to scare the elephant away. The elephant reaches the truck and flips it over using its trunk. Another woman was injured and was taken to a medical facility in South Africa.

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Following the incident, the conservation and hospitality company Wilderness, which was running the trip, issued a statement. “This is a devastating incident for everyone involved, and we are doing our best to support the family and all affected,” Tarryn Gibson, the safari company’s head of communications, said.

However, Gibson did not identify the tourist who was killed, saying her family wished for privacy. 

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The Company Requests for Privacy

After the video surfaced online, the company asked people not to share the video of the attack online. While many wildlife parks in southern Africa teem with dangerous animals like elephants and lions, such incidents are rare. 

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A picture of Zambia Tourist Center
Source: Pinterest

However, they sometimes occur with fatal consequences due to the unpredictability of wild animals. Keith Vincent, chief executive officer of the safari company, said the rough terrain minimized the chances of an escape.

Four Other People Suffered Minor Injuries

Wilderness Chief Executive Officer Keith Vincent said the vehicle, carrying six guests and a guide, was “unexpectedly charged” by a bull elephant. This happened during the excursion to view wildlife, known as a game drive.

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“Our guides are all extremely well-trained and experienced. Sadly, in this instance, the terrain and vegetation were such that the guide’s route became blocked, and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough,” Vincent said.

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

Details About the Deceased 

The deceased woman has since been named as 79-year-old Gail Mattson by her family, correcting the age initially cited by Wilderness. Mattson’s son, Blake Vetter, reported that the family heard about Mattson’s passing from the US embassy. According to Vetter, Mattson was a grandmother and a retired mortgage professional.

“She was loved by everyone, and she was the center of attention,” Vetter said. “I mean, she was 79 years old and wanted to spend a month in Africa. She would be the first to understand this could happen.”

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“Everyone wants to blame the elephant and driver, but no, it was a freak accident,” Vetter added. Mattson’s daughter, Rona Wells, also posted about her passing on Facebook and called the trip a “dream adventure” for her mother.

“We would like to share some amazing pictures of our wonderful Mom’s trip to South Africa with her friends and family. Sadly, she lost her life in a tragic accident while on her dream adventure,” Wells said.

What Is Zambia Known For?

Zambia is popular with safari travelers thanks to several national parks and the quality of its guides. Kafue is the country’s largest national park and is home to more than 200 animal species. 

A picture of safari tourist
Source: Pinterest

It is known for lion and leopard sightings and an incredible diversity of antelope species, many of which are rarely seen elsewhere. This is not the first time an American tourist has died at the park.

In September 2016, Bianca Rudolph was found dead in her hunting cabin after a fatal shotgun blast. Her husband, Lawrence Rudolph, was sentenced last year to life in prison for her killing.

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