A British soldier has died in Malawi during counter-poaching operations, the Ministry of Defence has said.
Mathew Talbot, of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was on a patrol on 5 May when he was believed to have been killed by an elephant.
His commanding officer, Lt Col Ed Launders, described Guardsman Talbot as “determined and big-hearted”.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said he served with “great courage and professionalism”.
She added: “This tragic incident is a reminder of the danger our military faces as they protect some of the world’s most endangered species from those who seek to profit from the criminal slaughter of wildlife.”
In a statement, the MoD said Gdsm Talbot “was not unfamiliar” with Africa and had volunteered to support counter-poaching in Malawi.
“With his keen interest in military history he was proud to have joined a regiment with such a rich and long lineage,” it added.
British troops have been deployed in Africa to boost the fight against wildlife poaching.
Their role is to train rangers in tracking, infantry, bushcraft and information analysis skills.
The former defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced the expansion of the UK’s counter-poaching training at two parks in Malawi – doubling the number of rangers mentored by soldiers to 120 – in 2018.
Gdsm Talbot’s company commander, Maj Richard Wright, said that while he had only known the soldier for a short time, “he never failed to make me smile”.
Lt Col Launders added: “Mathew was loved by his brothers in arms in the Coldstream Guards. We will sorely miss his humour, selflessness and unbeatable spirit.”
Shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith described the death as “tragic news”.
She added: “It underlines the dedication and selflessness of our armed forces personnel serving across the world.
“My thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”