Man gored by elephant sues game lodge

2010-10-22 20:32

Pretoria - A man gored by an elephant is suing a North West game lodge for R300 000, according to court papers.

In papers lodged in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria this week, Andrew Falcon is demanding R300 000 from Three Cities Management Ltd, Madikwe River Lodge (Pty) Ltd and Madikwe River Lodge Management Ltd.

He alleged that the lodge's emergency medical procedures were so poor that he had to wait almost five hours before he could be evacuated for medical attention.

However, the lodge claimed that Falcon signed an indemnity form in which he "consented to the risks inherent in game drives and warranted that he was aware of such risks" and ultimately "any rights which he might otherwise have had to hold any of the defendants liable" in the event of an accident.

Falcon was gored in his right leg by an angry elephant as he sat in the back of a game viewing vehicle in March 2007.

He was thrown off the vehicle and had run to another game viewing vehicle as the vehicle in which he was sitting drove off.

Falcon claimed the game ranger was negligent because he switched off his vehicle while viewing the elephants and failed to ensure he had an escape route should an elephant attack.

Video footage submitted to the court, a copy of which is in Sapa's possession, shows the elephants huddled around a waterhole with calves.

Moments later the camera is dropped and screaming is heard as the vehicle roars away followed by screeches.

Eventually the game ranger is heard asking whether everyone is okay and a man is heard shouting: "No he's out. Don't ever switch your engine off again with elephants around you silly bastard. You silly bastard. Were you never told to keep your engine on with elephants around?"

A woman can be heard sobbing in the background.

Falcon sustained a fractured leg and lacerations to the leg.

An expert's report submitted to the court stated that the lodges had failed to implement their medical evacuation plan and Falcon had to wait almost five hours for definitive medical treatment.

The expert, Jan Kriel, said in his report that the game ranger had failed to detect the distressed state of the elephants who were alarmed at the presence of a vehicle so close to them.

He also noted that the game ranger did not have a rifle with him at the time. He described him as being "grossly negligent" in his duties as a ranger.

The lodge, in its responding papers, has denied this.

The case is expected to be heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria next Friday.

Falcon's lawyer Bisessar Badal said he did not want to comment on the matter as he did not want to prejudice any hearings or potential negotiations.