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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Elephant Handler critically injured by elephant at Knysna Elephant Park

Yet another keeper injured. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured handler, Arnold. But this is why we are concerned about tamed \ trained elephant and why we have raised concerns about the elephant back safari industry.  

from Natal Mercury  6\6\2011 

Harry, a six-ton bull elephant, appears with a handler on a previous occasion. The pachyderm severely injured handler Melikhaya Arnold Ndzwanana.
An animal handler at the Knysna Elephant Park is in a serious condition after an adult bull trampled him repeatedly before flinging him into the air in an enraged attack, while a group of terrified visitors looked on in horror.The assault, which lasted at least 10 minutes, on elephant handler Melikhaya Arnold Ndzwanana by the parks star attraction, six-ton bull Harry, left the 32-year-old man in a critical condition with multiple injuries, including numerous bone fractures to both legs. Ndzwanana is in the intensive-care unit at Knysna Private Hospital and will require major surgery to his legs one of which will have to be amputated.
The incident happened on Saturday.Knysna Elephant Park spokesman Greg Vogt confirmed that both Ndzwananas ankles were broken. There had been significant blood loss from the damaged main artery in his leg, Vogt said.
Six women from Cape Town on a trip to the Garden Route, including Tracey Watson, mother of former Springbok loose-forward Luke Watson and her daughter, Candice, said the attack had taken place about 10m from where they were standing.
The elephant lifted the poor man into the air and threw him into the ground and trampled him, over and over again. It was like a horror movie said Candice.The group described how other elephant handlers desperately tried to distract Harry (who had killed another tour guide in a similar attack six years ago) by throwing sticks and stones at the beast and even attempted to pull Ndzwanana away.
Every time they tried to pull him away, the elephant just pulled him back, said Cape Town attorney Tamlyn Pretorius, another member of the group.When the attack eventually stopped, his body was so bruised it looked like putty… The attack lasted 10 minutes and then the elephant stood over the guides body for another 10 minutes until a tractor arrived and pushed the elephant away, said Candice.Melanie Garthwait, owner of the Chelsea Aesthetic Centre in Cape Town, said Ndzwananas lower legs were left at odd angles after the attack.They said another seven guests who were with them also saw the attack, which took place in an open area where they were encouraged to feed the elephants by hand with chunks of fruit. We were interacting with the other elephants when we heard Harry trumpeting… the elephant attacked the guide,said accountant Lufuno Masutha.
Other elephants became increasingly agitated. There was nowhere to hide. We were all crying. We all started praying,said Masutha. Saturdays attack was at least the second by 21-year-old, 3.5m-tall Harry, described as a gentle giant . Yesterday, Vogt said Harry would not be put down, but the bull would never again come into contact with guests. Vogt said all the parks male elephants had been moved, but visitors were still being allowed to feed the female herd. He said that Ndzwanana, who had been employed by the park for eight years, would be taken care of. Vogt said the reason for the attack was not known. – Garden Route Media