Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tanzania: Court finds lodge negligent in leopard mauling death

Tanzania: Court Finds Lodge Negligent Over Killing

4 April 2009

Arusha — The High Court of Tanzania has ruled that the Tarangire Safari Lodge whose operations are inside the wildlife park were negligent in ensuring the safety of a seven-year old French boy killed by a leopard on October 1, 2005 within the precincts of the lodge.

The High Court of Tanzania thus awarded a US$ 50,000 (about Tanzanian shillings 60 million) in general damages to a French couple whose child Adrian Pereira was killed by the leopard.

The French couple Mr. Adelino Pereira, and his wife Cecile sued Tarangire Safari Lodge over negligence that caused a leopard killing of their beloved son, the late Adrian Pereira who was accompanied by his parents during the weekend visit to Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania.

In his judgment on Monday, March 30th , Justice Kasukulo Sambo of the High Court of Tanzania ruled that Tarangire Safari Lodge whose operations are inside the wildlife park did not care to beef up the security of its guests after noticing that a leopard frequented a barbecue area outside the lodge's dining hall.

He rejected as untenable the defendant's argument that the death of Adrien Pereira could have occurred because of negligence of his parents.

Judge Sambo said it was the responsibility of parents not to let unaccompanied young children roam about, but the general safety of the boy and the parents was in no question, the responsibility of the hotel or the lodge management.

He added that the management of SInyati Limited, trading as Tarangire Safari Lodge, did not take extra measures to improve security even after realizing the leopard frequented the lodge and also the same management failed to report the presence of the deadly beast to the management of the Tanzania National Parks which could have assigned armed rangers to beef up security or chase away the animal.

According to Tanzania National Parks rules and regulations, security of the people in any particular lodge inside the parks was the responsibility of lodge operators but the armed and trained rangers who are employed to guard the wild animals, were also responsible to protect the people inside the park whenever needed to kill or chase away wild animals suspected to attack or harm human beings.

The couple had earlier also asked to be allowed to erect a commemorative plaque at the site of the attack.

Judge Sambo said the erection of the plaque was subject to approval by Tanzania National Parks management. Tarangire National Park is under control and protection of the National Parks authority.

Mr. Pereira, who is an employee of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland, was at the time of the killing of his son employed at United Nations Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha .

The late Adrien Pereira was snatched by the leopard from the premises of the tourist lodge in Tarangire National Park on the evening of October 1, 2005 while his parents and other guests were having dinner. He was found dead in less than half an hour some 150 meters from the lodge by his father and other people who joined the search mission minutes after the attack.

Witnesses told the Tanzanian Court during hearing process that the leopard frequented the lodge premises Wednesdays and Saturdays during barbecue dinners and has been a good attraction to lodge visitors.

Tanzania National Parks wardens shot the killer leopard three days after the boy's death.

The plaintiff was represented by Mathew Kimomogoro of Imboru Chambers Advocates while the defence was represented by Herbert Makange of Makange Chambers Advocates. The Lodge operators, in their defense, had argued that on the material day the guests were warned of their safety and that of their children after the leopard was spotted near the barbecue area.


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