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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Rogue elephant escapes in Rwanda
Rwandan elephant Mutware
Mutware has been rampaging through farms since the weekend
An infamous elephant, Mutware, has escaped from a game park in Rwanda terrifying villagers, admit wildlife officials.

Conservation officer Fidel Ruzigandekwe said trackers were trying to find him after he left Akagera National Park.

The bull elephant acquired a fearsome reputation last year when a US security warning was issued about his temper.

"We can no longer move; we are in fear of Mutware, who has destroyed our gardens," a resident told a newspaper.

A former keeper told the BBC the elephant has been known to storm off before, usually when he is hungry.

"He has destroyed crops but so far no-one has reported any damage to infrastructure," Mr Ruzigandekwe, who works for Rwanda's Tourism and National Parks Office, told AFP news agency.

We're looking at ways of putting a barrier around the park
Conservation officer Fidel Ruzigandekwe

Mutware has become popular with local tourists, who flock to see him wallowing in Lake Ihema.

Last year, the 37-year-old elephant destroyed at least three vehicles in the park, prompting the US embassy warning, the agency reports.

The park does not have a fence, but Mutware is usually accompanied by park rangers.

Park rangers say Mutware usually has a good character and violent incidents in the past came about because foolhardy visitors ventured into the park without guides.

After the latest incident, a barrier was being considered, Mr Ruzigandekwe said.


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