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Indian elephant tramples British bird-watcher to death

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A British bird-watcher has been trampled to death by an elephant in a southern Indian nature reserve after he went out alone on foot, his guide and police told AFP on Friday.

The 68-year-old tourist was fatally injured by the male animal in the Masinagudi forest of Tamil Nadu state on Thursday, area police chief T. Senthil Kumar told AFP by telephone.

He identified the victim as Colin Manvell, from the town of Havant, in southern Britain, who had visited the sanctuary in Nilgiris district twice a year for the last five years.

"After lunch on Thursday sir (Manvell) went out on foot for bird watching near a lake which is a watering hole of wild elephants," his local guide, M. Kumar, told AFP from Masinagudi, which also boasts a state-protected tiger reserve.

"When he did not return by 4:15 pm, we followed his trail and heard the sounds of a tusker trumpeting loudly."

A forest warden called Gnanadoss, who uses one name, said it appeared that the Briton did not notice the elephant creep up on him until it was too late.

"It swiped him with its trunk and then trampled him on the ground," Gnanadoss said, adding the attack occurred 100 metres (330 feet) from a site where a woman was killed by elephants in 2009.

The profusely bleeding man was rushed to a local hospital but there was no doctor to treat him.

He was then ferried to a medical facility in Cuddalore city, 23 kilometres (15 miles) away, but he died from his injuries on the way, local guide Kumar said.

"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."

Tamil Nadu's forest authorities say tourists should pay heed to warnings to stay away from densely wooded areas which are home to tigers and elephants.

"The state government has taken abundant precaution and has launched awareness programmes on the hazards but despite that this tourist entered the reserve forest," said forest conservator Kandaswamy, who uses one name.

Indian elephants can grow to 6.4 metres (21 feet) in length and 3.5 metres in height, according to the World Wildlife Fund. They can weigh up to five tonnes.

India is home to some 25,000 elephants but their numbers are dwindling, mainly due to poaching and destruction of their habitats by human encroachment.

Wildlife experts blame such attacks on the rampant encroachment of forested areas that are the elephants' natural habitat.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130920/indian-elephant-tramples-british-bird-watcher-death