Investigation learned that the two soldiers and three park rangers had started running in different directions, and as Warden Talbot attempted to climb a “prominent branch” of the tree, he was seen climbing. ‘to be “thrown” and “kicked” in the air.
Lance Sergeant Padgham described the elephant’s actions as a sweeping motion with its head.
The witness told the court that he then lit and threw a firecracker in an attempt to scare off a group of elephants, and they first left the immediate area.
Lance Sergeant Padgham, who immediately began first aid, said: “As I was going down to him initially, I dragged him under the cover of that tree.”
Asked about the suddenness of the incident, the soldier replied: “The chief ranger gave the signal for dangerous game at the front.
“We started to back up, then from my right he charged, we just dispersed, as we had been taught.”
Lance Sergeant Padgham said anti-poaching patrol soldiers learned to fire warning shots, to scare off endangered animals, only as a last resort.
No warning shot fired
However, he added: “In my mind personally, if an attack like this happened and I was able to do it, I would have fired a warning shot.”
Explaining why he had not fired a warning shot after climbing a tree during the elephant attack, he added: “The sniper has a fairly long barrel.
“I was hanging from the tree with one hand. I didn’t want to shoot in the direction the animal was in case it bumped into Mathew.”
The inquest learned that a death report identified Lance Sergeant Padgham’s “leadership and personal strength” in evacuating Guard Talbot on a stretcher and controlling bleeding as “initially life-saving”.
On the first day of the investigation, it was also learned that Guard Talbot had died of complications from chest and soft tissue injuries.
The jury-less investigation follows an investigation by the Department of Defense released last year that found gaps in estimating the time it would take to bring a victim to a remote location to the nearest hospital.
In September 2019, the Duke of Sussex honored Gdsm Talbot’s sacrifice by laying a wreath at a memorial during a visit to Liwonde National Park.
The investigation will hear testimony for two weeks, covering the command and management of the incident, the preparedness and procedures in place in Malawi, and the resources available at the time.
The hearing continues.