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WINDHOEK: A pensioner from the Zambezi Region has become the latest person to be killed in human-wildlife conflicts in the country, with the total for 2021 now standing at eight dead.
A 72-year-old man was killed by an elephant in the Bwabwata National Park on Wednesday morning.
According to environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, Matala Mafuta was attacked by the elephant at about 09:30 close to the Omega 3 village in the park in an area that is zoned as a ‘managed resource use zone’.
He said preliminary investigations indicate that the “unfortunate” incident happened about 800m south of Omega 3 while Mafuta was on his way to his crop field.
“It appears that the deceased was unaware of the presence of the elephant in the vicinity as it charged from close range, leaving him with no chance to escape.”
According to Muyunda, community members heard the deceased screaming during the attack and rushed to the scene, but it was too late.
He added that ministry staff members tracked the animal, but it joined a bigger herd, making it difficult to continue tracking the elephant.
Staff members will assist the bereaved family, particularly in claiming N$100 000 for the life lost, as provided in the Human-Wildlife Conflict Management Policy.
“The ministry wishes to express its regrets and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, friends, community and mourners of the late Matala Mafuta.”
Seven other people have lost their lives this year to wild animals – four to crocodiles, two to elephants and two to hippos.
“This is not a desirable situation for the ministry and, accordingly, we would like to urge our people – particularly those who live around conservation areas – to be extra cautious at all times,” the spokesperson said.
In the 2020/2021 financial year, 10 people were killed by wild animals and 42 injured. This compared to seven killed and 37 injured the previous year.
Statistics provided by the environment ministry indicated that 1,486 human-wildlife conflict cases were reported during the 2020/2021 financial year, while 1,284 cases were investigated.