British soldier killed by elephant in Malawi

Mathew TalbotImage copyright MOD

A British soldier has died in Malawi during counter-poaching operations, the Ministry of Defence has said.

Mathew Talbot, of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was on a patrol on 5 May when he was believed to have been killed by an elephant.

His commanding officer, Lt Col Ed Launders, described Gdsm Talbot as “determined and big-hearted”.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said he served with “great courage and professionalism”.

She added: “This tragic incident is a reminder of the danger our military faces as they protect some of the world’s most endangered species from those who seek to profit from the criminal slaughter of wildlife.”

In a statement, the MoD said Gdsm Talbot “was not unfamiliar” with Africa and had volunteered to support counter-poaching in Malawi.

“With his keen interest in military history he was proud to have joined a regiment with such a rich and long lineage,” it added.

His company commander, Maj Richard Wright, said that while he had only known Gdsm Talbot for a short time, “he never failed to make me smile”.

Image copyright MOD

British troops have been deployed in Africa to boost the fight against illegal wildlife poaching.

Their role is to train rangers in tracking, infantry, bushcraft and information analysis skills.

The former defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced the expansion of the UK’s counter-poaching training at two parks in Malawi – doubling the number of rangers mentored by soldiers to 120 – in 2018.

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