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British birdwatcher killed by elephant in India

The man, in his 60s, was struck and stamped on by a male elephant

A British birdwatcher has been trampled to death by an elephant near a tiger reserve in the south of India. The attack happened very close to a place where a woman was killed by elephants in 2009.

Colin Manvell, who was in his late 60s, was struck by a male elephant and then stamped on by the animal which had apparently crept up on him unnoticed. Bleeding profusely, Mr Manvell was hurried to hospital but died on the way to receive treatment.

The regular visitor to India was killed at the Masinagudi forest in Tamil Nadu, having arrived in the country on September 13. A British official in Delhi confirmed Mr Manvell’s death.

“He arrived late at night and checked into a private home as all resorts were booked,” M Kumar, a guide from the village of Masinagudi whom Mr Manvell had hired, told the AFP.

“After lunch on Thursday, he went out on foot for birdwatching near a lake, which is also a watering hole of wild elephants. When he did not return by 4.15pm, we followed his trail and heard the sounds of a tusker trumpeting loudly.”

A local forest guard said Mr Manvell, from Havant in Hampshire, had not noticed the male elephant approach him. Some reports in the Indian media said he had been too engrossed taking pictures to hear the shouts and warnings from guides that the animal was approaching.

The retired geography teacher was taken to a local hospital, where there was no doctor available to treat him, and then to the district government medical facility in Cuddalore city where he was pronounced dead.

Mr Manvell was a regular visitor to Tamil Nadu and had been visiting Masinagudi  twice a year for the past five years. “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,” said Mr Kumar, the guide.

The Portsmouth News reported that Mr Manvell was aged 69 and was single. He had been a treasurer for the Portsmouth and District Lawn Tennis Association Committee and was well known for his regular “safaris”.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the tragic death of a British national in southern India and we are providing consular assistance at this difficult time.”