Israeli medical student killed by wild elephant while volunteering in Nepal

Foreign Ministry working with family to return body of Samuel Boikaner, who had been volunteering at a local hospital

Samuel Boikaner, an Israeli doctor who was killed by an elephant while volunteering in Nepal, on February 24, 2023 (Courtesy)
Samuel Boikaner, an Israeli doctor who was killed by an elephant while volunteering in Nepal, on February 24, 2023 (Courtesy)

An Israeli medical student who was volunteering in Nepal was killed by a wild elephant while in a national park on Friday, officials and local police said.

Local police officer Inspector Subas Bhatta identified the victim as Samuel Boikaner and said his driver’s license had been found on his body

Bhatta told media that Boikaner’s body had been found some 600 meters from the Chitwan National Park headquarters and that he had apparently been in the park without a permit.

Boikaner was a 30-year-old medical student who was a resident at Soroka hospital in Beersheba and had been part of an Israeli delegation volunteering at a local hospital.

Officials at the Medical School for International Health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, where Boikaner had been a student, sent a message to students informing them of his death in what they called “a tragic accident.”

The message described Boikaner as a “beloved and outstanding student.”

Boikaner’s mother Tatiana, who is also a doctor at the Laniado hospital in Netanya, told the Walla news site that he was due to graduate in a few months.

“He came to medicine because he saw this service as a mission — he really wanted to be a doctor. Towards the end of his volunteer time in Nepal he went walking in this nature reserve and the disaster happened,” she said.

Boikaner had spent part of his youth in San Francisco in the US and had done an undergraduate degree there where he was head of the local Hilel chapter, where he was a passionate advocate for Israel, she said.

The Foreign Ministry said representatives from the embassy in Kathmandu were in contact with Boikaner’s family and assisting in bringing the body back to Israel.

A week-old baby elephant is seen at Chitwan National park,105 miles southwest of Kathmandu, Nepal, Thursday, March 10, 2022. Chitwan National Park, a conserved area in the south-central belt of Nepal, is home to numerous birds species and rare mammals. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

Police said they were continuing to investigate how the incident occurred. Local reports noted that this was the eighth incident of a person killed by wild animals in the park in the past six months, and the second by an elephant.

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