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Elephant kills British bird watcher in India park

The 68-year-old tourist is hit by the charging tusker in the Masinagudi forest of Tamil Nadu state's Nilgiris district.

NEW DELHI // A British birdwatcher was trampled to death by an elephant near a southern Indian tiger reserve he had been visiting for years.

The 68-year-old tourist was fatally injured by a charging tusker in the Masinagudi forest of Tamil Nadu state’s Nilgiris district on Thursday and was declared dead in hospital, the police chief T Senthil Kumar said on Friday. Masinagudi is home to a tiger reserve and is popular among wildlife enthusiasts.

The victim, Colin Manvell, is from the town of Havant in southern Britain.

Manvell reached India on September 13 and met his guide, M Kumar, on Wednesday in Masinagudi village, Mr Kumar said.

Manvell went out on foot on Thursday afternoon for birdwatching near a lake which is a watering hole for wild elephants.

“When he did not return by 4.15pm, we followed his trail and heard the sounds of a tusker trumpeting loudly,” Mr Kumar said.

The Masinagudi forest warden Gnanadoss, who uses one name, said Manvell did not notice the adult male elephant approach him until it was too late.

“It swiped him with its trunk and then trampled him on the ground,” Gnanadoss said. The attack occurred 100 metres from a site where a woman was killed by elephants in 2009.

Manvell was rushed to a nearby hospital but there was no doctor to treat him.

He was then ferried to a medical facility in Cuddalore city, 23 kilometres away, but he died from his injuries in transit, Mr Kumar said.

Mr Kumar said the avid birdwatcher had been visiting Masinagudi in February and September every year for the past five years and described him as a “soft-spoken photographer”.

“He knew his way well around here, he was aware of the wild elephants and also the dangers that lurk in the local jungles. This is tragic.”

* Agence France-Presse

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