DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – After months of legal wrangle in the first case of its kind in Tanzania’s legal history, the High Court of Tanzania has awarded a US$ 50,000 (about Tanzanian shillings 60 million) in general damages to a French couple whose child was killed by the beast at the lodge precincts inside a wildlife park three and a half years ago.
The French tourist couple sued a wildlife lodge over negligence that caused a leopard killing of their beloved son, the late Adrian Pereira who was accompanied his parents during the weekend visit to Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania.
In his judgment Monday this week, Justice Kasukulo Sambo of the High Court of Tanzania ruled at the end of the case that the lodge owners were negligent in ensuring the safety of the then seven-year old Adrian, causing the leopard to snatch and killed him on the post evening of October 1st, 2005 within the precincts of the lodge.
He 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 Adrian 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 Inyati Limited, trading as Tarangire Safari Lodge, did not take extra measures to improve security even after realizing the leopard which frequented the lodge, especially on the barbecue day.
Similarly, he said, 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 that 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.
Judge Sambo further said that the presence of the killer animal was enough reason for the Tarangire Safari Lodge management to beef up security with armed guards. He then awarded through the court ruling, some US$ 50,000 as general damages to the parents of the late Adrian Pereira. The couple had earlier demanded a commemorative plaque to be erected at the site of the attack of their beloved son.
Judge Sambo said the erection of the plaque was subject to approval by Tanzania National Parks management. Tarangire National Park is under total control and protection of the National Parks authority, strictly for wildlife and nature protection.
The French tourist, Mr. Adelino Pereira, and his wife had last year sued Inyati Limited over its management’s negligence which caused the death of his 7-year-old son who was attacked and killed by a leopard at the lodge compound almost four years ago.
In the High Court of Tanzania, Mr. Pereira, who is an employee of the United Nations (UN) in Geneva, Switzerland, said in his testimony that his son was killed by the leopard because of alleged negligence on the part of the hotel management and its employees on duty that day.
He said the same leopard that killed his son, who was at that time playing around the lodge veranda after dinner, had probably attacked another child at the lodge employee minutes earlier with no precautionary measures taken by the lodge management.
The late Adrian Pereira was snatched by the leopard from the veranda of the tourist lodge in Tarangire National Park on the evening of October 1, 2005 while his parents and other guests were having their 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 rescue minutes after the attack.
The boy was snatched at about 20:15 hours (8:15 pm) by the animal while he and other guests were having dinner in the dining hall of the lodge located near the Tarangire park’s main entrance.
The leopard snatched the boy and killed him then abandoned his body and fled into its habitat with Tarangire National park, about 130 kilometers west of Arusha town.
Witnesses told the Tanzanian Court during hearing process that the leopard frequented the lodge veranda Wednesdays and Saturdays during barbecue dinners and has been a good attraction to lodge visitors. It was feeding on leftovers supplied by the lodge staff.
Tanzania National Parks wardens shot the killer leopard three days after the boy’s death.
Tarangire National Park is one among Tanzania’s leading wildlife attractions, full of elephants, leopards, lions and big African mammals. It has been rare cases to find animals protected in parks attacking humans in Tanzania.
Wildlife attacking humans are common in Tanzania, but most cases occur in unprotected areas where lions kill and eat humans, while leopards commonly attack people for protection. Leopards, which are found everywhere in Tanzania, are usually seen hunting for goats and chicken rather than humans.