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Video: Elephant kills American tourist on safari

An elephant. (Wolfgang Hasselmann/Unsplash)
June 25, 2024

Gail Mattson was on a safari vacation in Zambia earlier this year when the 80-year-old from North Dakota was tragically killed by a charging bull elephant. Several other tourists from her group were treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.

According to Forbes, Wilderness CEO Keith Vincent issued a statement identifying vegetation and terrain as contributing factors to the accident. Vincent said the company’s guides are “extremely well trained and experienced,” but the driver did not have time to reach safety.

Video shared on X, formerly Twitter, by Good Morning America provides insight into the attack.

In the video, the driver of the safari can be heard shouting “Hey, hey, hey!” in an attempt to stop the elephant as the vehicle tips over.

The group involved in the elephant attack was staying at the Lufupa camp in Kafue National Park. The incident has since raised concerns regarding the safety of safari vacations, as accidents involving wildlife and tourists are being reported more frequently.

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On March 20, a video of another bull elephant attack on a safari truck in Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa went viral.

Video shared by ABC News shows that in this attack, the elephant was unsuccessful in flipping the safari vehicle.

Despite this, experts who work around wildlife continue to state that elephant attacks are rare. “It’s extremely rare to see an elephant that irate,” Marlon du Toit, a wildlife photographer and safari guide, told the “TODAY” show. “Across Africa, there are thousands and thousands of guests on safari on a daily basis with no negative consequences.”

Bull elephants and mother elephants may be more prone to attack if a vehicle comes too close to their young. Safari visitors are advised to choose experienced, professional companies for their vacations and follow all national park or game reserve guides for safety.