79-year-old US tourist fatally attacked by bull elephant on Zambian safari

April 5, 2024 by No Comments

A 79-year-old tourist from the United States was killed by a bull elephant during a . 

Gail Mattson, 79, died on Saturday after being attacked at the Kafue National Park in Zambia. Mattson was one of six people on a safari that day organized by safari company Wilderness.

“At around 09h30 on Saturday the six guests were on a game drive when the vehicle was unexpectedly charged by a bull elephant,” said Wilderness’ chief executive officer.

He continued, “Our guides are all extremely well trained and experienced, but sadly in this instance the terrain and vegetation was such that the guide’s route became blocked and he could not move the vehicle out of harm’s way quickly enough.”

Footage captured by a passenger riding aboard a safari truck shows the elephant chasing the group. 

The truck was traveling 25 mph as the elephant ran at full speed to keep pace. Eventually, due to a block in the road, the vehicle was forced to come to a halt and the elephant attacked.

The animal – which stands taller than 10 feet – hooked its tusk under the truck and flipped it over before the recording cut out.

In addition to one fatality, another member of the safari group was severely wounded, and the other four suffered minor injuries.

“We can confirm the death of a U.S. citizen in Zambia. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family on their loss,” a spokesperson for the Zambian Department of State told Digital. “U.S. Embassy Lusaka is in contact with the family of the deceased and is providing all appropriate assistance.”

The spokesperson continued, “Millions of U.S. citizens engage in adventure travel each year and attacks on humans by elephants in Zambia are a rare occurrence. We encourage U.S. citizens considering adventure travel to visit our website for further information on how to stay safe while traveling overseas.”

Wilderness released a statement acknowledging the “tragic event” and stating they will be coordinating the repatriation of the deceased.

“The deceased will be repatriated to her family in the USA with the support of local Zambian authorities and the US embassy in Lusaka,” the company said.