Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bull elephant spears tourist to death

LAHAD DATU: An elephant sightseeing tour for two Australian women turned tragic when a bull elephant charged one of them, Jenna O’ Grady Donley, 26 to death with its tusk.

The tragic incident occurred at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, here, yesterday. Prior to the 8.30am attack, Grady Donley and her friend aged 25 had gone to the Lipid Mud Volcano at the reserve along with a local tour guide.

Upon request from the tourists, the guide is said to have taken them to walk the elephant trails to see the wild animals. After a distance they decided to get off the main elephants' trail and went into the forest. 

Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said after few metres of walking they spotted a single bull elephant.

"Normally when elephants are in a group, they are not dangerous but when they are alone it simply means their hormone is not stable.

"One of the women (Grady Donley) had gone near the elephant to take photograph and she was just 10 metres away," he said when contacted.

This move by Grady Donley apparently spooked and provoked the elephant to go after her.

The victim's friend and the tour guide managed to run and head for the trail while Grady Donley ran into another direction deeper into the forest.

"Based on the report that we have gathered, the elephant caught up with her and attacked the woman many times with its tusk. 

"She succumbed to serious stomach injuries and died at the scene," said Ambu, adding  Grady Donley’s body had been taken to the district hospital.

Meanwhile State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun expressed his condolence to the Grady Donley’s family.

"The State Tourism Ministry deeply regrets this unfortunate incident and would let the police make a thorough investigation before deciding any further action. 

"I would like to convey our heartfelt condolence to the family of the deceased and would like to offer whatever assistance that we could give to the deceased family" he said.

Meanwhile, State police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib, who confirmed on the incident, classified the case as sudden death.

The Tabin Wildlife Reserve attracts visitors from far and near each year. It is home to a myriad of wildlife and is most famous for sightings of the Asian elephant, the elusive Sumatran rhinoceros and the Tembadau a species of wild cattle. - NST

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