A 22-year old soldier from the United Kingdom was serving in Malawi with an anti-poaching operation when he was killed by an elephant on Sunday, the defense ministry said.

Mathew Talbot of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards was out on a normal patrol duty in Liwonde National Park with another British soldier and three Malawian wildlife rangers when they came across three elephants.

“One of the elephants charges and the team tried to run for cover,” Brighton Kumchedwa, director of Malawi’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, told AFP.

Kumchedwa narrated that one the elephants pulled Talbot out from a tree that he had climbed and eventually trampled on him, leading to his death.

“His friends tried to resuscitate him, but it was all in vain, because he died before they could take him to [the] hospital,” he added.

British forces were with the rangers in the 530-square-kilometre Liwonde park to assure them from any dangers, especially when they confront groups of poachers who are usually armed with assault rifles.

“[This is a] reminder of the danger of our military faces as they protect some of the world’s most endangered species,” Penny Mordaunt, Britain’s defense secretary, said about the tragic incident in a statement.

Ed Launders, Talbot’s commanding officer, said Talbot had volunteered for the Malawi mission and has always been “determined and big-hearted.”

“He was hugely proud of his work as a counter-poaching operator and tragically died doing great good,” Launders added.

Talbot enlisted in 2013 and attended a multi-national training exercise in Kenya just last year in preparation for the mission.

Benson Linje, communications officer at the British High Commission in the capital Lilongwe, told AFP that the soldier’s body will be sent back to the United Kingdom by the end of the week.

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