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A Tourist From New Mexico Is Killed by an Elephant in Zambia

A Tourist From New Mexico Is Killed by an Elephant in Zambia


A vacationer from New Mexico was killed in Zambia when an elephant charged her, in line with the police commissioner who investigated the incident. She is the second vacationer to be fatally attacked by an elephant within the southern African nation this 12 months.

The girl who was killed, Juliana G. Letourneau, 64, of Albuquerque, had simply visited Victoria Falls, a 350-foot waterfall that straddles the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and was heading again to her lodge on Wednesday when the group that she was touring with encountered a herd of elephants on the highway.

She and others stepped out of their car to look at the animals, mentioned Auxensio Daka, the police commissioner for the southern province of Zambia, in a phone interview on Saturday.

“They stopped to observe the elephants, and sadly certainly one of them charged in the direction of them as they have been standing there watching,” Mr. Daka mentioned.

Mr. Daka mentioned that Ms. Letourneau was taken to a clinic in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park close to Livingstone, Zambia, the place she was declared dead on arrival. Her accidents included deep wounds on the fitting shoulder blade and brow, a fractured left ankle and a barely depressed chest, in line with a police assertion.

No different accidents have been reported from the encounter with the elephant.

Ms. Letourneau’s brother mentioned on Saturday that he had no particulars concerning the incident, and declined to be interviewed. Other family members couldn’t be reached.

This previous March, a 79-year-old American girl was on safari at Kafue National Park, in a central area of western Zambia, when an elephant charged the tour group’s car, in line with media studies.

However, human deaths are uncommon in encounters with elephants, in line with specialists.

“This can be a freak accident,” Nikhil Advani, a senior director on the World Wildlife Fund, a nonprofit that works on environmental safety and conservation efforts, mentioned of the 2 incidents occurring so shut collectively. “It’s in all probability just a few form of coming collectively of unlucky circumstances that led to this.”

The U.S. State Department mentioned in a press release on Friday that thousands and thousands of Americans journey to areas the place there may be wildlife yearly, and that it’s unusual for elephants and different wild animals to assault guests in Zambia.

Ms. Letourneau’s loss of life was first reported by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, a government-controlled information outlet, which mentioned that human and wildlife encounters in Livingstone, town the place the incident occurred, have been rising amid the nation’s worst drought in 4 a long time.

The local weather circumstances are worsening meals insecurity in Zambia, which has one of many highest charges of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa, and pushing wildlife into human habitats looking for meals and water, in line with the report.

Tourism to wildlife protected areas, which cowl a couple of third of Zambia, and to the quite a few lakes and rivers and plush valleys contributes an necessary share of the nationwide economic system.

Joyce Poole, a co-founder and co-director of ElephantVoices, a nonprofit that researches elephant conduct, mentioned that holding distance from elephants is the easiest way for vacationers to remain secure. She added that there can typically be a “tradition of aggression” stemming from a area’s historical past with elephants, as in Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which skilled a long time of struggle and poaching within the twentieth century.

“Elephants responded in a sure method towards autos,” Dr. Poole mentioned of her analysis findings from Gorongosa. “This conduct was then noticed by youthful elephants, imitated by youthful elephants and form of handed down by households.” There have been a number of poaching crises in Zambia, she famous.

Dr. Poole mentioned that discovering “a good firm and drivers who are usually not simply racing round to get the perfect shot” could be a great way for guests to make sure security.

Visitors to wilderness areas must also be cautious and admire the animals from afar, specialists say.

“As with all wildlife, like should you preserve secure distance from them, they aren’t trying to disturb you or work together with you,” Dr. Advani mentioned.

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