Tragic elephant encounters underline the need for more visitor education about walking in the wild
In the late afternoon of Wednesday 26th September a German national visiting Mana Pools was trampled by a female elephant near the Zambezi River close to the ZimParks HQ at Nyamepi. The woman tragically passed away later while being evacuated out of the Park for medical treatment.
Two days later, not far from the entrance gate to the Victoria Falls, another German visitor taking photographs of an elephant herd was trampled and was evacuated for medical treatment. The man was lucky to survive the ordeal.
These tragic encounters bring into stark focus the necessity for visitors to be made fully aware of the risks involved in walking in areas where there are wild animals.
There are many variables in such a situation - which come into play in a matter of seconds. Every wildlife interaction is unique and very contextual. Each elephant has its own radius of discomfort which in itself varies according to its life-experience, its mood at the time, its family responsibility and its prior experience with people. How these factors played out in this particular situation will be hard to determine.
As a key stakeholder in Mana Pools, and in all wild areas along the Zambezi River, The Zambezi Society will do the best it can to engage with all the other stakeholders (including the tourism industry) to ensure that every effort is made to educate visitors about these risks and to guide them on best practices in the wild. This is particularly important in a National Park like Mana Pools which is unique in allowing visitors to walk unguided (as long as they have obtained the necessary walking permit). We will be engaging with ZimParks and others in revisiting and revising the existing Mana Pools Code of Conduct for Visitor Behaviour, and will share it widely so that it can be replicated and adapted for elsewhere in the country.
You can download a copy of the existing Mana Pools Code of Conduct for Visitors HERE.