Gostina Yosefe, 23, and his wife Sabita Banda, 21, of Bamba Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mwadzama in Nkhotakota thought they would both return home safely from a visit to their maize garden on Friday.
But as they worked in their garden, a marauding elephant attacked Sabita, and Yosefe helplessly watched his wife being mercilessly gored to death by the giant animal believed to have strayed from Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve.
Armed with a hoe, the young man’s efforts to scare off the wild animal were in vain.
Yosefe’s reverberated calls for help from the nearby community did nothing to make the elephant relent in its mission.
Well-wishers arrived few minutes later. But it was too little too late. The woman had been brutally dismembered.
In an interview yesterday, a traumatised Yosefe, who married his wife just three months ago, recalled how the elephant charged at them while they farmed in their garden.
He said: “The giant elephant charged at us while we were doing our work. My wife was frightened and started running. It then ran after her and trampled her to death.”
But when the villagers arrived at the scene, they unleashed violence on police officers and African Parks (AP) rangers who visited the scene of the incident.
During the fracas, AP field operations manager David Robertson and a ranger Thomson Mizeki sustained injuries after being attacked by the irate villagers. Two AP vehicles were also torched while an M16 rifle went missing during the riots which lasted about three hours.
Police used tear gas to disperse villagers who had blocked the road at Mpamathama in protest against the incident that had happened in their neighbouring village.
In an interview later, district commissioner Medson Matchaya described the incident as tragic and pledged support to the deceased family.
But village head Bamba said the community is living in fear due to continued human and wildlife conflicts in the area.
He said: “Elephants continue to threaten us, especially this time when we are going toward the harvest season. We want authorities to solve this problem.”
Meanwhile, the deceased was buried at her home village of Nambamba in T/A Chakhaza in Dowa yesterday, while the elephant was yesterday killed by armed rangers as the lost fire arm was also recovered.
According to Bemba, clashes between elephants and communities are a result of increased population of animals in the reserve.
In 2017, AP translocated at least 500 elephants into the reserve.
AP constructed a perimeter fence around the 1 800 square kilometre reserve but of late, there have been reports of wild animals terrorising communities along the protected area.
AP park manager Samuel Kamoto has since assured the communities living along the periphery of the 1 800 square kilometres reserve of safety.
In 2017, a woman was also killed by an elephant in the area of T/A Mphonde in the district.
AP manages Nkhotakota Game Reserve, Liwonde National Park in Machinga and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Chikwawa under public-private-partnership.