Elephant Kills Man Who Was Reportedly Taking Selfies With It in 'Unfortunate' Incident

A Zimbabwe park official has warned people against approaching elephants after a man was reportedly trampled to death whilst taking a photo with one of the animals.

The elephant involved in the incident was shot dead by rangers following the fatality, according to Zimbabwe news outlets. Another person is said to be in hospital with injuries.

The attack took place outside the Zimbabwe city of Kwekwe, according to local newspaper The Chronicle.

The news outlet said the man, whose name has not been disclosed, reportedly died after being dragged and trampled by the animal. He was said to have been "taking selfies" with it, Tinashe Farawo, a spokesman for the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) said.

Farawo added, per The Chronicle: "Communities are urged to stay away from the animals and minimise close contact with the animals.

"It is very unfortunate that we have lost life unnecessarily as it could have been avoided."

The spokesman said park officials are on the ground working with communities so that "no-one provokes the animals".

The spokesman also highlighted another incident in which an elephant was shot dead as it was seen approaching a residential area in Kwekwe.

The issue of human-elephant conflict in Zimbabwe is one that Farawo has spoken out about recently. The country has one of the largest elephant populations in the world, behind Botswana.

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, Zimparks reported 20 human deaths due to elephants between January and October 2019. These human deaths often result in elephants being killed by community members.

In March this year, the African forest elephant and African savanna elephant became listed as Critically Endangered and Endangered, respectively, under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Prior to that update both types had been treated as a single species under the vulnerable classification system.

However, Farawo maintains that Zimbabwe is overpopulated with elephants despite concerns about Africa's elephant population more widely, he told Al Jazeera in June.

Officials in the region announced they were going to sell the rights to shoot as many as 500 elephants this year because of declining tourism revenue amid the COVID pandemic.

But Simiso Mlevu, a spokeswoman for the Center for Natural Resource Governance in Zimbabwe, told CNN the plan was "appalling" and feared the practice "escalates human-wildlife conflicts".

This is in addition to reports that officials are considering a mass cull to control numbers, according to Al Jazeera.

Farawo told the outlet that other options, such as relocating elephants, were hampered by a lack of money from the country's government.

A stock photo shows two African elephants. A Zimbabwe wildlife official has warned people to stay away from the animals following a death. MaggyMeyer/Getty