The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism (MEFT) this week expressed deep sorrow following two separate fatal elephant attacks on 17 June within the country.

The first incident involved the tragic death of Gert Van der Walt, a renowned professional hunter, during a hunting expedition.

The ministry identified the elephant involved as a problem-causing animal and issued a trophy hunting permit accordingly.

Van der Walt, known for his adherence to hunting ethics and his pivotal role in resolving human-wildlife conflicts, was highly respected within the conservation community.

The ministry urged the public to honour his memory and denounced unfounded claims surrounding the circumstances of his final hunt.

"We have noted with concern the insensitive remarks circulating since the incident," stated MEFT spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, refuting allegations of secrecy surrounding the hunt.

"Mr. Van der Walt's efforts extended beyond his contractual obligations, supporting communities affected by wildlife damage."

The second tragic event occurred in the Zambezi region, where Albert Kawayile, a dedicated Ministry staff member, lost his life in an elephant attack while en route to the Ngoma Forest Research Station. Kawayile, a valued resource at the station, was discovered alive initially but succumbed to his injuries shortly afterward.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the families of both Gert Van der Walt and Albert Kawayile," conveyed the Ministry in a press release issued on 18 June. "Their contributions to conservation and community welfare are immeasurable. May their souls rest in eternal peace."

The incidents underscore the ongoing challenges posed by human-wildlife interactions in the region, prompting renewed calls for vigilance and respect towards wildlife, while also acknowledging the risks faced by those working in conservation and related fields.