Israel's Elephant Expert Killed in Addis Ababa Minibus Bombing

An Israeli elephant expert died Wednesday from injuries sustained in an explosion in the Ethiopian capital.

Professor Yehezkel Shoshani, a world-renowned specialist, was killed after a minibus blew up in Addis Ababa. Two other passengers were killed in the blast, and nine were seriously wounded.

Shoshani, 65, devoted his life to the study of elephants. He has been studying elephant communities for more than 10 years in the east African state of Eritrea and moved to Ethiopia last year to teach at the University of Addis Ababa.

In an interview during a recent visit to Israel, he told Haaretz that the volatile political situation near the Eritrea-Ethiopia border was one of the reasons he moved to Ethiopia.

Despite his age and frail health Shoshani hoped to complete the project of his last years - mapping the genetic spectrum of the elephants in the region and ensuring they would be protected.

"I don't know if I'll manage to complete the research in my lifetime, but others will carry on the work," he told me some two months ago.

His widow, Sandra Shoshani, who lives in the United State, said: "His testament is to protect wildlife."

Shoshani was riding a minibus to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry offices on Tuesday, when the explosion occurred. His widow said he had been on his way home from the university. He was taken to hospital and underwent surgery, but died the next morning. His body was not immediately identified.

The explosion was the latest in a series of blasts in the Ethiopian capital that the government has blamed on Eritrea-backed terrorists.

Shoshani was born in Tel Aviv's Hatikva Quarter, the son of a poor family. He was interested in animals from a young age and found work in the Tel Aviv zoo.

His research focused mainly on elephant anatomy and evolution. Shoshani's life work became preserving Ethiopia's declining elephant population in a national park near the border with Eritrea. The area has witnessed fierce fighting.

Shoshani's feelings about elephants ran deep - he really loved them. In the interview he spoke of the strong emotions he experienced last year when he saw an elephant shot by poachers. He said he thought about the last moments in this elephant's life.