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Dolphin hit puts woman in hospital

The Dominion Post

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

A 27-year-old woman has been seriously injured after being hit by a leaping dolphin while watching a group of the mammals swimming off the east coast of Coromandel Peninsula.

The woman was sitting in the bow of a runabout off Slipper Island - 5km off the coast from Tairua - about 2.30pm yesterday when it appeared a dolphin miscalculated its leap out of the water.

"The dolphin leapt on to the bow of the boat, while people had been watching the dolphins. Unfortunately it landed on the woman," Tairua police constable Richard Jellyman said.

The woman was flown to Auckland Hospital's intensive care unit in a serious condition.

Steve Taylor, from the Pauanui Coastguard said their diesel powered jet rescue boat arrived at Slipper Island within 10 minutes of getting the call.

They found the woman conscious but distressed and unable to talk about the accident.

Coastguard paramedics put her on a stretcher, knowing she had internal chest injuries but not sure if she had damaged her spinal cord.

"She was being looked after on the beach and we assessed her and got everything moving, got the helicopter under way and looked after her until the helicopter guys got there.

"She had been unconscious but was conscious when we got there."

Mr Taylor said the incident was something none of the coastguard had ever encountered before.

He said dolphins were not aggressive.

"They are usually pretty playful and I am sure that is all they were yesterday too but it was just the fact that they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"They were jumping around like dolphins do.

"It jumped out of the water and ended up on the front of the boat," Mr Taylor said.

Another woman on the boat was also hit by the dolphin and suffered minor cuts and bruises when she went through the boat's windscreen.

The dolphin swam off unharmed.

Slipper Island Resort manager Barbara Needham said a large pod of bottlenose dolphins - some about 3 metres long - had been playing around the island's beaches and bays since last week and many boats had come out from Pauanui and Tairua on the peninsula to look at them.

She understood the woman was part of a group of people in about three boats that had come from Pauanui or Tairua for the day to picnic at a beach.

"They are here a lot and we have people swimming with them all the time or kayaking all around them. There was a bunch of jetskiers playing in amongst them. They seem to like the boats. The dolphins won't actually let you touch them, but they get very close. We've never had a problem with them."

Conservation Department marine mammal ranger Kirsty Russell said it was the first time she had heard of a dolphin injuring someone by leaping onto a boat.

Ms Russell said dolphins travelling in a straight line at a constant speed could anticipate where a boat or swimmer is going to be. But if people were too close or moved erratically, dolphins might hit them by accident.

Ms Russell said bottlenose dolphins could weigh as much as 300kg.

- With NZPA


Das, S.K. and S. Chattopadhyay. 2011. Human fatalities from wild elephant attacks - A study of fourteen cases. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, vol. 18, 154-157.

Ngene, S.M. and P.O.M. Patrick O.M. Omondi. 2008-2009. The costs of living with elephants in the areas adjacent to Marsabit National Park and Reserve. Pachyderm, no. 45, pp. 77-87.

Last updated 17:53 25/04/2012

Woman killed by elephant

A keeper has been killed at a zoo near Auckland after an elephant crushed her.

Emergency services say the woman died at the Franklin Zoo in Tuakau about 4.30pm today. TV3 reported the elephant crushed the keeper.

The death has been referred to the coroner.

Franklin Zoo, based in Tuakau south-west of Auckland, is the home of Jumbo (Mila) the elephant an ex-circus African elephant that was rescued by the zoo.,2106,2792097a11,00.html

24 January 2004

Elephant trips electric fence for walkabout

She might be more intelligent than most animals but Burma the elephant does not have quite the brain power to plan her own escape.

Yesterday morning the 21-year-old's inquisitive nature got the better of her. After rolling a 200kg log onto an electric fence, disabling its 7000 volts, she crossed a 1.5m deep moat and pushed through a gate to find herself in Western Springs Park.

"She's like a kid that's just left school and is looking for a job and more responsibility in her life," said Brooke Noonan, team leader, elephants at Auckland Zoo.

"She likes to investigate new environments and this was very new and exciting for her."

"It was not like she learnt to get out of the enclosure by pushing the log on to the fence. They are intelligent but not that intelligent. They would have to be shown how to do that and even then her mindset wouldn't have been 'I'm going to escape'."

Burma was spotted by members of the public at about 7.25am and was recaptured half an hour later by the four elephant-keepers, part-way up the bush-clad slope on the lake's eastern side, a couple of hundred metres from her enclosure.

Miss Noonan said elephants were inquisitive, sociable animals but 2.8 tonne Burma liked security. Outside the enclosure she would have initially been perfectly happy because she could still see and hear 35-year-old Kashin but when she ventured out into Western Springs Park, she was out of her depth and "freaked out".

"It's kind of like a kid running away from their parents and then suddenly they are lost in the supermarket. Then it's panic time."

A "hyped up" Burma walked back to her enclosure with her keepers - "part of her extended herd" - and was reunited with Kashin by 8.25am.

After a bit of subsonic conversation - elephants use communication humans can't hear - Burma started squeaking about her morning outing.

Her escape disrupted morning rush hour traffic, with police and fire service personnel closing nearby roads and on-ramps to the northwestern motorway as a precaution.

The adventure means an end to the pair's overnight summer access to the outdoor enclosure and keepers will always be with the elephants when they are outside until new security fences are in place.

Maria Finnigan, manager life sciences at the zoo, said a two-metre high steel cable and bollard fence would be built with a secondary fence behind it. Two extra strands of electric fence would be installed and the large logs the elephants played with were being moved to another part of the enclosure.

Ms Finnigan said the electric fence, which created a physical and psychological barrier, had been successful in the past and believed to be adequate.

Miss Noonan said when it came to intelligence, elephants could be compared to dolphins and whales.

"If you show them how to do something they will understand how to do it the next time. It's a bit different than a dog or other animal where you have to repeat the behaviour over and over again. These guys catch on really fast."

Burma and Kashin have a repertoire of more than 50 commands they can perform on the instruction of one of their keepers - from lifting their feet to rolling over or pushing logs.

Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 16:29 GMT

Drunken elephants die in accident

By Subir Bhaumik

BBC correspondent in Calcutta

Four wild elephants drunk on rice beer have been electrocuted in the north-east Indian state of Meghalaya, wildlife officials report.

The elephants are known to have a taste for rice beer brewed by tribal communities across north-east India.

But this is the first time some of them have died after consuming the drink.

A herd of about 20 to 25 elephants went on the rampage in a remote area in the West Garo Hills district earlier this week after getting high on the beer.

As panicky villagers fled for cover, leaving behind their freshly brewed beverage, the elephants drank to their heart's content.

The inebriated elephants then struck an electric pole and brought it down.

But their trunks took the brunt of the shock from the high-tension wire.

Four of the elephants were killed instantly.

Assam's elephant expert Kushal Konwar Sharma, a lecturer, said these elephants frequently consume rice beer and cause devastation when they become intoxicated.

Wildlife officials say in the last two years elephants have killed at least 180 people in Assam and Meghalaya.

And more than 200 elephants have been killed by angry villagers during the last six years in the two states, in what is developing into a fierce conflict between man and beast.

Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 15:38 GMT

Drunk elephants kill six people

Assam is home to half of India's elephants

Drunken elephants have trampled at least six people to death in the northeast Indian state of Assam, local officials say.

The herd of wild elephants stumbled across the supplies of homemade rice beer after they destroyed granaries in search of food.

The incident happened near Tinsukia, 550 kilometres (344 miles) from the Assam capital, Guwahati.

"They smashed huts and plundered granaries and broke open casks to drink rice beer. The herd then went berserk killing six people," a forestry official told AFP news agency.

Police said four of those killed were children.

According to experts, elephants often emerge from Assam's forests in search of food.

But much to the annoyance of the local residents, they destroy rice fields and granaries.

Environmental questions

Growing elephant numbers and the devastation of the animal's natural habitat are partly to blame for the problem.

Officials in Assam say at least 150 people have been killed by elephants in the last two years.

The deaths have led villagers to kill up to 200 elephants.

"It has been noticed that elephants have developed a taste for rice beer and local liquor and they always look for it when they invade villages," an elephant expert in Guwahati told Reuters news agency.

The region is home to more than half of India's elephant population, estimated at 10,000.

The Assam Government's protection of elephants over the last 20 years, including a ban on their hunting, has led numbers to increase to about 5,500.

UGANDA: Displaced first by war, now by elephants

AMURU, 24 October 2008 (IRIN) - Marauding elephants in northern Uganda have added to the challenges faced by civilians trying to rebuild their lives in the wake of 20 years of civil war, destroying their crops and prompting some to return to displaced people’s (IDP) camps they had only recently left.

"The villagers are scared of the elephants; some of them have sought refuge in huts they had left in the [IDP] camps," John Bosco Okullo, a local leader in Amuru District told IRIN.

Most affected are hundreds of returnees from six IDP camps - Goma, Anaka, Purongo, Ongako, Corner Nwoya, and Aler, all in Amuru District - whose crops have also been eaten by wildebeest roaming the villages in search of water and pasture.

Some of the returnees have had narrow escapes from attacks by wildebeest competing for the same land that the villagers are returning to.

Sunday 22 March 2009

UGANDA: IDPs sue wildlife authority over crop, property damage

AMURU, 29 December 2008 (IRIN) - Hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Uganda have sued the country's wildlife authority, demanding 2.8 billion shillings (US$1.4m) for damage to their crops and other property by elephants and buffaloes straying out of a national park in the region.

“We, the affected communities from the villages of Alero, Koch-Goma and Amuru have decided to seek compensation through the courts," Bernard Oryema from Koch-Goma, one of the claimants, told IRIN.

The 1,008 claimants from Alero, Koch-Goma and Amuru sub-counties are demanding special damages against the Uganda Wild Life Authority for violation of their right to life, right to property and livelihoods by the marauding beasts.

"We lost a lot over the course of the two-decade LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] conflict and now our properties are being destroyed by wild animals - animals from a national park that government should have controlled not to stray into villages where IDPs are returning," Oryema said. "We are scared because in the coming year, IDPs resettling in these affected areas will experience famine because all our crops have been eaten up by the animals."

The wild animals have destroyed bananas, maize, beans, millet, potatoes, rice, sesame, groundnuts sorghum and yams that the IDPs had planted.

In November, one of the returning IDPs set ablaze his hut as he tried to scare away herds of elephants that were approaching his home in Koch-Goma village.

Amuru local leader Gilbert Olanya told IRIN local people had lost faith in the Uganda Wild Life Authority for failing to control wild animals straying out of the game park.

“The law does not allow killing of wild animals so they want the court to help them on this issue”, he added.

Edward Asalu, the Murchison Falls National Park senior conservation officer, said the authority had not received any notification of the IDP suit.

"We are doing our best to control these animals, a number of them have been driven back to the national park, he said.

The IDPs have sought the help of a legal firm based in Kampala which has already served notice on the attorney-general, copied to the Uganda Wildlife Authority, giving the government and the wildlife body 60 days to respond. The notice was made available to IRIN by IDP representatives.

SRI LANKA: Returning IDPs face jumbo squatters

MAHAWEVA, 8 July 2010 (IRIN) - Internally

displaced persons (IDPs) returning to Sri Lanka's Eastern Province face a

big problem - elephants which have taken a liking to abandoned homesteads.

Since the decades-long civil war ended in May 2009, thousands of residents

who fled the area in the 1980s and 1990s have been returning to their

homes only to find that the jumbos, which had lived in the area

previously, were now wreaking havoc in farmers' fields.

In Mahaweva village, for example, a herd of three dozen elephants

including at least four bulls are now regular visitors to the once

abandoned homes. Residents say they are used to elephants nearby but have

never seen them enter their communities so regularly before.

In June at least a dozen elephant attacks were reported in Batticaloa and

Trincomalee districts, many parts of which were deserted during the war.

Wilfred Wickremasinghe, a 72-year-old villager who returned, after 26

years, to Kithuluthuva in Trincomalee District, about 330km east of

Colombo, knows firsthand how deadly the wild elephants can be: Last month

one of his neighbours was killed and his nine-year-old son badly injured.

"It was right next to the wall of the house," Wickremasinghe said. "The

animal was not used to humans, so it panicked and knocked down the wall."

In Rukam, a village in Batticaloa District, the elephant threat is also

there, though villagers have so far avoided serious injury: Athanayake

Banda, 52, is happy to have returned to his home after 19 years, but he

and his wife now sleep in a tree house about 10 metres off the ground to

avoid the daily visitors.

"There is no stopping them. They just come from the jungle. Sometimes they

don't wait till it's dark. By the afternoon they are in my plot."

Much of his harvest was lost to the beasts, he said, gesturing towards the

few remnants of maize left scattered about after the animals had finished


"I was in the tree. We just watched. They are not scared of sounds or

anything," Banda said, including the firecrackers he lit in an effort to

drive them off.

School food targeted

At nearby Pillumallai Roman Catholic School, a herd of elephants attacked

a classroom where sweets and cakes had been left after an official school

function in May. Fortunately no children were around at the time,

officials say, although the animals tore apart a window, ripping off its

grille before helping themselves to the booty.

Animal experts say that when people moved out of the villages, the

elephants simply moved in, lured by the ample food.

"Elephants love secondary growth; they relish it," Jayantha Jayewardene of

the Asian Elephant Specialist Group, told IRIN.

"After the villagers moved out, their plots were filled with secondary

growth that the elephants prefer to branches," he said.

The animals got used to roaming about without fear of confrontation,

Jayewardene said, advising that the only solution - by no means an ideal

one - was the erection of electric fences around crops.

Deadly encounters between elephants and man are nothing new in rural Sri

Lanka. In 2009, over 220 elephants and 50 humans died in various

encounters, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Ranjith

Siyambalapitiya told Sri Lanka's parliament recently.

Meanwhile, for some IDPs returning to their homes, the elephants remind

them that some things have never really changed in their communities since

they left: "They were here then. They are here now. We have to agree to

live together," Wickremasinghe said.

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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