An elephant that escaped from Nkhotakota Game Reserve on Saturday killed three people in Ntchisi and Dowa districts before it was put down.
According to authorities, the elephant attracted crowds of people near the reserve where it was seen loitering in the community, killing two people before it was later killed by game rangers from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW).
Ntchisi Police Station spokesperson Gladson M’bumpha said in an interview the first victim Bonongwe Mbewe, 73, of Pwetekere Village, Traditiona Authority (T/A) Kalumo in the district was killed around 6am while working in his field.
He said: “He [Mbewe] suddenly saw the elephant coming towards him, he tried to run but failed and it trampled on him, killing him on the spot. We visited the scene with medical personnel who examined the body and established that death was caused by head injuries and severe bleeding.”
In the second incident which happened in Sabawo Village, M’bumpha said the elephant became violent apparently after being irritated by the crowd of people that was coming to see it.
“A lot of people gathered to see it and some started taking pictures which provoked the elephant, it became furious and started running after Lameck Chalinda of Kawere Village, T/A Mponela, Dowa and trampled on him. He died on the spot”, he said.
Meanwhile, Dowa Police Station spokesperson Richard Kaponda has said the Dowa victim Layifosi Chinsana of Chinkhande Village, T/A Vuso Jere, Ntchisi was killed after he deliberately provoked the elephant while he was drunk.
DNPW Director Brighton Kumchedwa told The Nation in a telephone interview that his department received communication of the escaped elephant on Friday and they immediately engaged in a hunt until it became dark but the search resumed the following day when the elephant was killed but after it had already killed the three.
Kumchedwa said that elephants are well regulated in all protected forests but sometime it happens that they find a way out.
Recently, African Parks, public private partnership managers of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve, Liwonde National Park in Machinga and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Chikwawa, embarked on a project to move 500 elephants to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. To date, about 200 elephants have been moved and put in a sanctuary