A tourist was recently killed by an elephant while on a game drive in Africa. He went on the game drive, better known to us as a “safari” with a group of friends in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, and was charged and killed by a bull elephant when the group stopped and got out of the car to relieve themselves. The victim, Ayman Sayed Elshahany, was of Saudi nationality and thought to have walked too far from the safety of the vehicle to run back and seek shelter inside when the elephant charged.
“They stopped along the way and the deceased went out of the car, an elephant charged at him, killed him on the spot,” Uganda wildlife authority spokesman Bashir Hangi said in a statement after the fatal incident.
Park officials said police would investigate the death and review safety protocols to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Elsewhere in Africa, other people have been killed by wildlife. In 2018, a leopard attacked and killed the three-year-old son of a game ranger at a different park. In 2020, a 73-year-old man was killed by an elephant that wandered off the nearby Tsavo East National Park while working on his farm in the Nthunguni area of Kibwezi East.
Safaris are a popular tourist experience for those wanting to get up close and personal with beautiful African wildlife, so how can you enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime adventure and stay safe? Here’s what experts recommend.
- Take a professional guide with you. Some parks only offer guided game drives, so you’ll have an experienced wildlife expert with you at all times to help keep you and your group safe. Some offer self-guided game drives, but you can choose to hire your own. Unless you’re extremely knowledgeable about large African animals, their behaviors, and how you should act around them, it’s probably a good idea to shell out a few more bucks and take a pro along for the ride.
- Do not get out of the vehicle unless instructed by a guide. Your guide will pick a safe spot to stop when you need to answer nature’s call or take a snack break. They will look around to determine if any signs of danger are present, then stand guard while you do your business. You should never get out of the vehicle at a watering hole or lion kill, as these areas are likely to attract predators. For further safety considerations, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.
- Pack outdoor supplies. Wear sensible, neutral-colored clothing and a sun hat. Bring scent-free sunscreen and reapply as needed. Your game drive will probably last about three to four hours, so bring snacks and water for the trip. Binoculars are handy to have for viewing wildlife that isn’t close enough to your vehicle to see well with the naked eye.
- Don’t forget your camera. Smartphones have made strides in the photography department, but a good old DLSR is still the best way to capture memories from your adventure in the wilds of Africa. It wouldn’t hurt to pick up a telephoto lens to capture those distant sightings for future enjoyment as well.
Most of all, don’t be afraid – either of the wildlife or to follow the rules. Animals are beautiful additions to our world, and they can be enjoyed with some know-how and safety measures.