Fate of killer elephant unclear

Hoedspruit - The fate of a "tame" elephant has yet to be decided, three weeks after she trampled her handler to death when he used a prodder on her.

The 11-year-old elephant at Camp Jabulani, an exclusive camp in the Kapama game reserve in Limpopo that offered elephant-back safaris, was no longer being used for rides after she trampled Edias Makore to death on March 6.

Master elephant trainer Paul Coetzee said: "I have not made a final decision about her fate, but for now we have isolated the elephant and will not use her for future rides."

Coetzee worked with elephants for 35 years

Makore, a Zimbabwean national, was killed after he tried to lure the elephant back to a herd of five jumbos.

He used a prodder, an instrument that was used to control the elephants, and she attacked him.

Coetzee said: "The elephant knocked him off his feet with its trunk and pinned him to the ground with her forehead."

Makore was pronounced dead after he arrived at Drakensig Military Hospital.

Coetzee, who's been involved with elephants for more than 35 years, said the elephant's behaviour was uncharacteristic of her.

He said: "I don't know what compelled the elephant to attack Edias. Maybe something from her abusive past was triggered."

Elephants 'have long memory'

He said Camp Jabulani had 13 elephants that were rescued from being culled in Zimbabwe, and none of them had ever attacked anyone.

The oldest elephant was 18 and they all had started training at the age of four.

However, he said elephants had long memories and were highly social animals in that they mourned their dead.

They were also very intelligent and could respond to at least 50 different instructions.

About 200 tourists visited the camp a month, where two elephant-back rides were offered each day; one in the morning and one in the evening.

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