Elephant ‘domesticated’ to give tourist rides at Victoria Falls kills handler (Zimbabwe)


Peta Thornycroft, The Telegraph

Date Published

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An elephant trained to give rides at Zimbabwe’s main tourist resort has charged and killed one of its handlers. 

Enock Kufandada, 50, a guide at Victoria Falls, was preparing to put Mbanje, the elephant, into a paddock when it turned and charged at him. 

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 that Mr Kufandada worked at the Victoria Falls tourist company, Adventure Zone, for more then 10 years. 

Mr Kufandada’s son, Shepherd, said his father’s death was a “great shock”. 

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.” 

Glynnis Vaughan, chief inspector of the Zimbabwe National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ZNSPCA disputes that African elephants cautioned that elephants can never be “domesticated.”

“Captured elephants which were used by several tourist companies have killed quite a few people in recent years,” she said. 

“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 train 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. 

Two other 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 the animals. 

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 has condemned some some quarantine areas in China where Zimbabwe elephants were held after a recent inspection.