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New Mexico tourist killed by elephant in Zambia

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A tourist from New Mexico has been killed by an elephant in Zambia, the second tourist to be killed by an elephant in the country this year, according to the police chief investigating the incident.

Juliana G. Letourneau, 64, of Albuquerque, had been visiting Victoria Falls, a 350-foot waterfall that straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, on Wednesday when her tour group encountered a herd of elephants.

Auxensio Daka, the police chief for Zambia’s southern province, said in a telephone interview on Saturday that she and others got out of their vehicles to observe the animals.

“They stopped to watch the elephants and unfortunately, while they were standing there watching, one of the elephants charged at them,” Mr Dhaka said.

Mr. Daka said Ms. Letourneau was taken to a clinic in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park near Livingstone, Zambia, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Her injuries included deep wounds to her right shoulder blade and forehead, a fractured left ankle and a slight dent in her chest, a police statement said.

The clash with the elephants resulted in no other casualties.

Letourneau’s brother said Saturday he did not know the details of the incident and declined to be interviewed. Other relatives could not be reached.

In March, a 79-year-old American woman was on safari in Kafue National Park in Zambia’s West Central region when an elephant charged at her tour group’s vehicle. According to media reports.

However, experts say encounters with elephants resulting in human fatalities are rare.

“This is really an accident,” Nikhil Advani, a senior director at the World Wildlife Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to environmental protection and conservation, said of the two incidents that happened so close in time. “It’s probably a combination of unfortunate circumstances that led to this.”

Millions of Americans travel to areas with wild animals each year, and attacks on tourists by elephants and other wild animals are uncommon in Zambia, the State Department said in a statement Friday.

Letourneau’s death was first reported by the government-controlled news agency Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, which said human-wildlife conflicts in Livingstone, where the incident occurred, were on the rise amid a growing fight against terrorism and counter-terrorism in the country. Worst drought in 40 years.

Climate conditions have exacerbated food shortages in Zambia, which has one of the highest malnutrition rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Pushing wildlife into human habitats Reportedly, in search of food and water.

Game reserves cover one-third of Zambia, with numerous lakes, rivers and lush valleys. Contributed an important share national economy.

Joyce Poole, co-founder and co-director of ElephantVoices, a nonprofit that studies elephant behavior, said keeping a distance from elephants is the best way to keep tourists safe. She added that sometimes an area’s history with elephants can create a “culture of aggression,” such as Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique, which experienced decades of warfare and poaching in the 20th century.

“The elephants react in a certain way to the vehicles,” Dr. Poole said of her findings in Gorongosa. “That behavior is then observed by younger elephants, copied by younger elephants, and then passed down through the family.” She noted that Zambia has had several poaching crises in the past.

Dr Poole said finding “a reputable company and a driver who is not driving around trying to get the best photo” was a good way to ensure tourists’ safety.

Experts say visitors to wilderness areas should also remain vigilant and admire animals from a distance.

“As with all wild animals, if you keep a safe distance from them, they won’t bother you or interact with you,” Dr Advani said.

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