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Irishman has lucky escape in terrifying elephant attack


Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague

Stephen Montague

Shane Wolf

Shane Wolf


Stephen Montague

An Irishman on safari in Africa had a lucky escape after he was attacked by an elephant.

Dramatic video footage caught the terrifying moment Stephen Montague and his brother-in-law were swiped by the bull elephant's trunk and tusks.

Fortunately the two men were not seriously injured in the incident, which happened in Zimbabwe and was posted online at the weekend.

Mr Montague (39), his American wife Shannon and her family were visiting Mana Pools, a wildlife conservation area in northern Zimbabwe when they got up close and personal with the elephant.

The group were sitting down to dinner in a restaurant in the national park when the elephant wandered over.

Video footage posted on YouTube shows the party are initially delighted to get so close to the animal.

"It's another boy . . . a big boy," someone is heard to say.

The animal searches for food on the ground and a guard throws it something.

After a few minutes, it comes closer to the group and then starts twisting its trunk and flapping its ears.

It them lashes out at Mr Montague and his brother-in-law Shane Wolf, throwing them off their chairs. The rest of the group rush to get away.

The safari guides then make noises that cause the elephant to move away and some of the party laugh nervously.

Mr Wolf then pulls up his shirt to show where he was gored by the elephant's tusk.

While elephants are generally not aggressive, males can be volatile and attack humans.

Around 500 people a year are killed by elephants.

Last night, Mr Montague's parents said they were relieved that he had escaped without injury.

Speaking from his home in Beragh, Co Tyrone, his father Paddy Montague said: "He is OK and he is continuing with his holiday in Zimbabwe.

"He wouldn't let something like that stop him.

"He loves to go where the action is."

Mr Montague, who renovates houses, lived with Shannon in Northern Ireland until they moved to California earlier this year.

His mother Patricia said it wasn't the first safari trip the couple had been on.

"These kind of holidays with wild animals wouldn't be for me but Stephen and Shannon love them.

"They took what happened in their stride.

"The elephant wandered into the compound looking for something to eat.

"One of the guards threw it something but that made it bolder and it headed over to the table.

"Stephen is fine and that's what is most important to us," she said.

In Africa and India, elephant bulls have been known to attack entire villages, killing people and destroying homes.

One reason for males becoming aggressive and violent is their state of 'musth'.

The word is Hindi for madness and is a time during which testosterone levels in the animals may rocket to 60 times higher than normal.

This is a period of increased sexual activity for the bull.

In violent attacks, elephants have picked people up with their trunks and hurled them to the ground.

They have also battered or impaled them with their tusks.

Far more often though it is elephants which are at the receiving end of human violence.

Conservation groups claim that around 20,000 are killed by poachers every year for their ivory.

Irish Independent