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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 17:29 GMT
Elephant prompts embassy warning
Rwandan elephant Mutware
Mutware's keeper attributes the elephant's temper to loneliness
Mutware, a Rwandan elephant, maintains a fearsome reputation that has been further fuelled by a United States government security warning.

The elephant has destroyed at least three vehicles in recent months, terrifying visitors, AFP reports.

Mutware can normally be found wallowing in Lake Ihema in Akagera National Park.

Earlier this year, the US embassy in Kigali issued a formal warning about Mutware, after diplomats complained to the Rwandan government.

"Recently, this elephant has displayed more aggressive behaviour towards visitors to the point that actual charging and physical contact with vehicles has occurred," the US State Department warned.

It's only in the mating season that he gets aggressive and that's because he's solitary and has no female
James Muhizi, game ranger

"The embassy has notified the Rwandan Office of Tourism and National Parks and expressed our concerns about these incidents," it said, advising US citizens "to exercise extra caution" in Akagera.

But park rangers say the violent incidents happen only when foolhardy visitors venture into the park without guides.

They also say Mutware's bad tempers are the result of loneliness.

"It's only in the mating season that he gets aggressive and that's because he's solitary and has no female," ranger James Muhizi told AFP.

"The first sign he's feeling aggressive is that he flaps his ears - the second is that he sends clouds of dust up into the air and the third sign is when he stamps his foot on the ground.

"When that happens you'd better get out of the area," Mr Muhizi concluded.

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