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American mother, baby killed by elephant in Kenya

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by Smashy, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. Smashy

    Smashy

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    Jan 7, 2010 (3:59p CST)
    By JASON STRAZIUSO (Associated Press Writer)

    NAIROBI, Kenya - Sharon Brown was hiking with family and her 1-year-old daughter in a Kenyan nature reserve when suddenly their unarmed guide froze in his tracks. Around a corner was an elephant.

    The guide shouted to turn back, but it was too late. The elephant - which was protecting a calf nearby - gored the young American mother, tossed her in the air and dragged her body into the forest, a relative said. The baby, who was flung out of her carrier, also died.

    "We watched helplessly," Brown's brother-in-law, Rick LeVert, said of the tragic end to what was supposed to have been a scenic nature walk in the forest surrounding the lodge where the family was staying near Mount Kenya National Park.

    The 38-year-old New York native and her husband Jeff had decided to take the guided hike Monday with their baby, Margaux, after being told by the owner of the Castle Forest Lodge that it was safe for such a young child, said LeVert, who accompanied them with his wife Libby.

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    "We were told several times that the walk was suitable for a mother with a baby. At no time did someone say there was a risk of an elephant charging," LeVert said.

    Melia van Laar of the Castle Forest Lodge said by e-mail Thursday that the hike is suitable for a mother and young child, and that "we always do" warn guests about dangers. She said a written warning was posted on an information board.

    The group had been walking over flat terrain looking at mushrooms and ants, LeVert said, when it began to rain. They headed toward a more forested area where they hiked for about an hour before the guide hesitated at a blind corner.

    "At that point he turned and yelled 'Go back!'" LeVert said. "Sharon, who was next to me, turned and slipped on wet ground and a branch. I helped her up, and ... 15 to 20 meters (yards) up the trail was the elephant."

    "It was not a lone elephant. It was a mother with a calf. We turned and we began to run. It was clear to everyone if we stayed on the path we had no chance," LeVert said. "I yelled to Sharon to come with me. I went to the left side, she went to the right side."

    The elephant charged to the right, ramming into Brown, then throwing her into the air and dragging her into the forest. Margaux was tossed from her baby carrier. She was barely alive, but the family immediately knew Brown had been killed.

    The elephant, making growling noises, backed up about 50 yards, allowing family members to creep toward Brown's body, LeVert said. Because she could not be saved, the family decided to leave her body and make the trek back to the lodge to try to save Margaux; the baby died en route.

    LeVert said the family blamed the lodge staff for not warning them about potential dangers and for failing to provide adequate emergency help after the tragedy.

    "We're not stupid. We know we were in the wild and anything could happen. But the guide did not hesitate and said the walk was suitable. The owner did not hesitate and said the walk was suitable," he said.

    However, because Castle Forest lies just outside the boundary of Mt. Kenya National Park, the family was with a hotel guide who was not allowed to carry a gun, said Kentice Tikolo, a spokeswoman for the Kenya Wildlife Service. Only park rangers can carry guns.

    At the lodge, LeVert said the owner did not have any emergency contact numbers for medical authorities or the Kenya Wildlife Service. Van Laar said her lodge does have emergency contacts but they weren't programmed into her phone because she never had to call them. She added that she stayed with the family the whole time.

    Tikolo, the spokeswoman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, said the elephant's aggression likely came from the fact that the calf was present.

    Deaths caused by animals are common enough in Kenya that the government has a set rate to pay families in the case of such killings - about $2,600, a large sum for rural Kenyans. The government pays $660 for injuries caused by animals.

    Monday's attack recalled a 2000 elephant attack on British tourist Wendy Smith while she was jogging inside the Il Ngwesi ranch, 60 miles north of the lodge. Smith, who survived with a crushed pelvis, had also been accompanied an unarmed guide.

    She was awarded $1 million in compensation by a Kenyan court in a case that forced organizations dealing with wildlife tourism to review security measures.

    "The incident taught us and the people who manage wildlife tourism a lesson," said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto. "If the people want to go to places where they are exposed to danger then we recommend armed escorts."

    Brown and her husband worked at the International School of Kenya, where both were teachers and she was the librarian. Previously, she had served in the Peace Corps in Bangladesh and Uganda, her father John Laurie said.

    "Sharon was a wonderful mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend. Margaux was a beautiful and vibrant child. They were both dearly loved, we will miss them terribly," said Brown's sister-in-law, Joellen Valentine.

    On the Net:

    Mount Kenya National Park: http://www.kws.org/kws/parks/parks_reserves/MKNP.html


    http://kai03.qwest.com/WindowsLive/...9D35IDG0@news.ap.org&client=landingpage&qid=0
     
  2. HandyMan Hugh

    HandyMan Hugh NRA Life Member

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    Tragic. So sad, so unneccessary!
     

  3. *ASH*

    *ASH* FURBANITE

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    sad story , but moral of the story is too not assume anything .
     
  4. eisman

    eisman ARGH! CLM

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    Babar wins!
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2010
  5. BigBull 301

    BigBull 301

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    Mother nature can be a cruel *****.
     
  6. matthewa5

    matthewa5

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    Wow thats horrible. People need to understand that nature isnt some magical fantasy land to be taken lightly. A nice hike thru an african nature reserve without armed escort doesnt sound to tempting. Some folks have more money then sense
     
  7. lunarspeak

    lunarspeak

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    hopeing not to seeem heartless but why would you take a infant to africa much less the jungle...an elephant would have been the last thing id thought would have killed you,thugs with aks would have been my first thought.
     
  8. Ol Timer

    Ol Timer ↓ hog hunter ↓ Millennium Member

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    They lived and worked in Kenya. As to why they were ignorant to the inherent risk of their activity, God only knows.
     
  9. NeverMore1701

    NeverMore1701 Fear no Evil Platinum Member

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    Sad and all, but why were they there in the first place?
     
  10. greatwun

    greatwun Senior Member

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    Why cant people leave these animals alone in their habitat? Its not like an elephant has never attacked a human in the past.
     
  11. Glock20 10mm

    Glock20 10mm Use Linux!

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    Funny how city folk forget when they are out in the wild they become part of the food chain. In this case it wasn't food, that I get but they also seem to have forgotten that humans, when compared to other animals are weak and slow. The ONLY reason we have succeeded is because we can create weapons and employ them.

    Either way, the lodge can't be held at fault. The final blame lies with the parents which made the decision to proceed. It's a terrible way to go but it's a fact of life that we in the US and even most of Europe don't see.

    I may sound callous but I am only speaking the truth as I see it. This is a tragedy that could have been easily avoided. Especially for the child.
     
  12. Surt

    Surt Jötunn-Kin

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    Uh... you're in Africa? Sometimes you have to figure out 1 and 1 equals 2 by yourself.
     
  13. yO B

    yO B

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    CLIFFS: They LIVED in (or near) Kenya.

    What a tragic thing. Humans are not designed to be part of the natural world.
     
  14. G-31

    G-31 .357 Sig

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    That poor baby, why would you take an infant there? Unfortunately $1,000,000 won't buy the remaining family common sense. :steamed:
     
  15. carbuncle

    carbuncle is not cool.

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    Thank you: so if the guide was armed they could have killed an elephant and doomed it's calf so a tourist wouldn't be in danger in a place they never should have been in the first place. I feel for the family, but a walk in the true wilderness, in Africa of all places, is going to be a risky proposition for anyone much less a mother and baby.
     
  16. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

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    Wild animals acting according to their nature? Inconceivable!
     
  17. Jake Starr

    Jake Starr

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    :dunno::dunno::dunno:
     
  18. AK_Stick

    AK_Stick AAAMAD

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    It wasn't the walk that killed your wife and kid, it was the elephant you pissed off.

    Morons....


    Barbar 2, idiots 0.
     
  19. stevelyn

    stevelyn NRA Life Member

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    Darwin has been doing a little overtime lately.
     
  20. vafish

    vafish

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    Why do people go to any National Park?

    Some people like to get out of the house and experience nature first hand. It's fun, it also has an element of danger to it.



    Umm, People have been part of the natural world for thousands of years. It's just that some people forget we were once part of the food chain as both predator and prey.


    The only thing I see wrong with this incident is the surviving peoples reaction to it. It's pretty common knowledge that there are lots of dangerous animals in Africa. If you go out walking amongst them it's possible you will end up dead. It's tragic that the women and her child died, but it's a chance they were taking and for anyone to try and blame the hotel staff for not warning them is ridiculous.