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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Kenya 'rogue' giraffe falls off cliff
Giraffes in Kenya
Giraffes have been known to turn nasty
The "rogue" giraffe at the top of the list of suspects in the death of an American tourist has fallen off a cliff.

The tourist died on Sunday at the luxurious Aberdare Country Club, north of Nairobi.


Once a giraffe takes it into its head to do something, that's it

James Drysdale, Aberdare Country Club

The suspect giraffe died on Wednesday after resisting an attempt to examine its hooves for bloodstains.

Kenyan police believe the giraffe could have killed James Gregory as he walked in the club's game sanctuary.

The dead man might have approached too close to an animal, forgetting that it was wild, according to the country club manager.

Lions and buffalos were not suspected as they do not live in the sanctuary.

Tranquiliser used

The Kenya Wildlife Service was called in to track down the giraffe and its rangers tranquilised the animal.

But before they could examine its hooves to see if it had kicked the tourist, it got up, staggered off and fell over a cliff, the French news agency AFP says.

The body of 50-year-old Mr Gregory was discovered on Sunday.

He had entered the sanctuary alone about three hours before.

Mr Gregory died from wounds to his forehead and behind one ear, Senior Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Kimanthi told BBC News Online.

Police are treating the death as suspicious but do not think a human being is responsible as Mr Gregory had not been robbed.

His pockets contained both Kenyan and US currency.

The hooves of the dead giraffe have since been examined for any evidence of the attack on Mr Gregory, but the results are not yet known, according to James Drysdale, duty manager of the country club.

He said that in its drugged state the giraffe might not have seen the edge of the cliff.

"You can never get into the mind of a giraffe," he said.

"They are massive animals. Once a giraffe takes it into its head to do something, that is it."

Giraffes can kill

A giraffe is capable of killing a man but attacks are very rare.

They eat leaves or other vegetation and are found in savannah or lightly forested areas of Africa south of the Sahara.

They defend themselves against predators, like lions or hyenas, by kicking out with their large hooves.

Although rare, it is not unheard of for giraffes to attack humans, says Mr Drysdale.

He added that a Kenya Wildlife Service ranger had been killed by a giraffe a few years ago.

See also:

10 May 02 | Science/Nature
25 Mar 02 | Africa
27 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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