By Agence France-Presse
A British soldier serving in Malawi with an anti-poaching operation has been killed by an elephant, the defence ministry said Tuesday.
Mathew Talbot was on patrol Sunday in Liwonde National Park when “he was killed by an elephant,” a spokesman told AFP.
The Director of Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Brighton Kumchedwa said that “two British soldiers and three Malawian wildlife rangers were out on a normal patrol where they came across three elephants.
“One of the elephants charged and the team tried to run for cover.”
According to Kumchedwa, the elephant pulled Talbot from a tree he had climbed and trampled on him.
“His friends tried to resuscitate him but it was all in vain because he died before they could take him to hospital,” he said.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said in a statement that the tragic incident was a “reminder of the danger our military faces as they protect some of the world’s most endangered species.”
The presence of well-equipped British forces in the 530-square-kilometre (250 square mile) Liwonde park has reassured rangers who routinely confront gangs of poachers armed with assault rifles.
Prince Harry, who visited the park in 2016, is the public face of the anti-poaching project that began that year.
Talbot’s commanding officer Ed Launders said he was “determined and big-hearted” and had volunteered for the Malawi mission.
“He was hugely proud of his work as a counter-poaching operator and tragically died doing great good,” Launders said.
Talbot enlisted in 2013 and last year attended a multi-national training exercise in Kenya.
Benson Linje, a communications officer at the British High Commission in the capital Lilongwe, told AFP that Talbot’s body would be repatriated to the United Kingdom by the end of the week.