Local news

Man stomped to death by wild elephant

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: A temple worker was stomped to death by a wild elephant while taking a stroll at a temple in Hua Hin district yesterday (Saturday).

Prasit Kanchanasilanon, 58, who lived at Wat Anan in tambon Huay Satyai, was found lying face-down in a pool of blood in front of the monks’ living quarters. He had suffered a fractured skull and other major injuries.

Phra Athikarn Somchai Thankalo, the abbot of the temple, said the sound of elephants was heard around 4am.

He said a herd of wild elephants often came to eat jackfruit behind the temple, located about 10 kilometres from the Pala-U waterfall, a popular tourist attraction.

The abbot said he saw Prasit lying dead in front of the monks’ living quarters around 7am. He had lived at the temple for about 10 years and helped clean the compound.

The victim’s younger brother told police he and his brother had lived in the temple for many years. Before dawn, Prasit often went out to stroll in the grounds and might have accidentally confronted a wild elephant, Thai media reported.

Chatree Chanveerachai, the deputy governor of Prachuap Khiri Khan province, said he had visited the area recently and discussed the problem of wild elephant intrusions into local communities.

He said the discussions had included a proposal to create water and food sources for the animals as well as construction of a road to prevent the animals from raiding crop plantations.

Local media reported that such unpredictable attacks may similarly be a function of abuse inflicted on working elephants, whether in zoos, circuses or industry.

Out of loyalty and because of their compassionate nature, elephants will endure a fair amount of abuse before they snap. When they do give in to their frustrations, though, the incident frequently ends in the death of a human being.

Like humans, elephants experience frustration and anger for a variety of reasons. What is becoming clear, however, is that the more exposure elephants have to humans, the lower their tolerance to these destructive beings.

In fact, exposure to people has even proved to make elephant males more violent and aggressive toward one another and other species.

The reputation that elephants never forget has been given a chilling new twist – a generation of pachyderms may be taking revenge on humans for the breakdown of elephant society.

New Scientist has reported that elephants appear to be attacking settlements as vengeance for years of abuse by humans.

In Uganda, elephant numbers have never been lower or food more plentiful, yet there are reports of the creatures blocking roads and trampling through villages, apparently without cause or motivation.

Scientists suspect that poaching in the 1970s and 1980s marked many of the animals with the equivalent of post-traumatic stress disorder, perhaps caused by being orphaned or witnessing the death of family members.

Many herds lost their matriarch and had to make do with inexperienced “teenage mothers”. Combined with a lack of older bulls, this appears to have created a generation of “teenage delinquent” elephants.

Joyce Poole, the research director at the Amboseli Elephant Research Project in Kenya, said: “They are certainly intelligent enough and have good enough memories to take revenge.

“Wildlife managers may feel that it is easier to just shoot so-called ‘problem’ elephants than face people’s wrath. So an elephant is shot without [people] realising the possible consequences on the remaining family members and the … possibility of stimulating a cycle of violence.”

A study by Dr Poole showed that a lack of older bulls to lead by example had created gangs of aggressive young males with a penchant for violence towards each other and other species.

In Pilanesburg National Park in South Africa, young bulls have been attacking rhinos since 1992. In Addo Elephant National Park, also in South Africa, 90 per cent of males are killed by another male – 15 times the “normal” figure.

Richard Lair, a researcher specialising in Asian elephants at Thailand’s National Elephant Institute, said there were similar problems in India.

“The more human beings they see, the less tolerant they become,” he said.

TNR and Thai language media. 




TNR staff
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