Elephant kills British soldier on anti-poaching mission in Malawi

/ CBS/AP

British Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards is seen in a photo provided by the Ministry of Defense. Talbot was killed by an elephant in Malawi during anti-poaching operations, the MoD confirmed on May 7, 2019. HANDOUT

London — A British soldier has been killed by an elephant while on anti-poaching operations in Malawi. Britain's Ministry of Defense confirmed on Tuesday that Guardsman Mathew Talbot of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards was on patrol in Liwonde National Park when he was killed on Sunday.

His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Ed Launders, said Tuesday that the 22-year-old soldier "was hugely proud of his work as a counter-poaching operator, and tragically died doing great good."

About 30 British soldiers are in the southern African country to help train rangers tasked with protecting endangered wildlife. Britain's Ministry of Defense said the troops help train rangers in tracking, infantry combat, wildlife survival skills and information analysis.

Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt said Talbot's death was "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."

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Talbot "was not unfamiliar" with Africa and volunteered to join the counter-poaching efforts in Malawi, the British military said in a statement.

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First published on May 7, 2019 / 11:05 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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