Jenna O’Grady Donley, 25, a veterinarian student from New South Wales was with a friend and had been on a trek hoping to see some wildlife.
According to the state wildlife department director, Laurentius Ambu, the bull may have been frightened and charged when the two tourists tried to take a photo of it.
One of the women managed to run away but Donley was attacked and pierced by the elephant’s tusk, killing her instantly.
It is thought that the tourists had left the main path on their way down the volcano after being disappointed that they hadn’t seen much wildlife on the way up. A local guide, who was with them at the time, was hoping to show them more animals by taking them off the track.
Ambu said that although bull elephants can be aggresive, fatal attacks are extremely rare.
Donley’s mother told ABC: “Bull elephants are fast, they can move with unpredictability, and they’re aggressive and they’re protective.
“This was an animal by itself and they startled it. This is an accident that’s happened, a very tragic accident.”
Donley was a final-year student at The University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Science and was due to graduate next week. She was particularly interested in large animals and had volunteered in Africa, looking after injured animals in a sanctuary.
Borneo’s pygmy elephants are generally known for their passive, gentle natures and it is thought they may have descended from a domestic stock. They are markedly smaller that African elephants.
What to do if you’re attacked by an elephant
Run away in a zigzag, as elephants will find it hard to follow
Run downhill as elephants find it hard to maintain their balance on a downward slope