Jurriën timber A pregnant elephant trampled its owner to death after it seemingly became agitated in severe heat.
The 60-year-old man named Chat Mokhom was tramped to death in the Buriram province of northeast Thailand, when taking his elephant, named Mae Nam-gnam, down to a stream, The Thaiger reported.
A witness to the incident, Sudjai Khawdee, 56, told The Thaiger that the elephant used her trunk to pick Mokhom up and thrown him down. She then trampled the man, the news outlet reported.
Police officers found Mokhom lying dead near the stream, with broken legs and arms. The rest of his body was severely bruised.
An Asian elephant is seen trumpeting on the river shore at Chiang Mai in Thailand. A pregnant elephant has tramped its owner to death in Thailand after it seemingly became agitated in severe heat.
The female elephant is five months pregnant.
Elephants are usually gentle creatures but can become extremely dangerous when provoked or threatened. While it is not certain what caused Mae Nam-gnam to turn on her owner, officials and Mokhom’s wife believed she was agitated because of extreme temperatures.
Thailand is currently experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in some places, The Guardian reported. Climate scientists have described it as the worst heatwave ever seen in April in Asia and people have been warned not to go outside because of the extreme conditions.
After the attack, Mae Nam-gnam left the scene but officials initiated a search for her, The Thaiger reported. They were able to finally find and tranquilize the elephant without harming her baby. This proved difficult because of her agitated state.
In Thailand, elephants can be both wild and domestic animals. It is not uncommon for people to own elephants in the country.
Around 60 percent of Thailand’s elephants are captive, with around 60 percent of those captive elephants used for tourism purposes. Other elephants may be kept for festival processions, or heavy, manual labor.
Duncan McNair, CEO of the non-profit Save The Asian Elephants, told Newsweek: “This tragic incident is the latest in numerous cases of abused or stressed Asian elephants attacking humans, often fatally. Research by Save The Asian Elephants shows nearly 1,000 people catastrophically injured by brutalised tourist elephants, another 800 killed, many in Thailand.
“The travel industry neglects to explain to its paying customers that elephants are wild animals and highly unpredictable and dangerous when stressed or threatened,” he said. “They cannot be ‘trained’ by the vicious beatings and stabbings they routinely receive to do all manner of unnatural activities like riding, tricks, games and selfies. The cruelty simply subdues them till they react, often violently.”
Save the Asian Elephants, which is based in the United Kingdom, works to ban advertising and sales of overseas venues where animals are abused for tourism.
According to Mokhom’s wife, Mae Nam-gnam was purchased in March for 1.5 million baht ($44,000) The Thaiger reported.
It is not the first time extreme heat has been blamed for an elephant’s violent behavior.
In August, an elephant ripped its owner in half after it worked in extreme heat carrying wood. The 20-year-old elephant called Pom Pam had stabbed the owner with its tusks.
Sometimes, Asian elephants are used to carry logs and wood. These animals are known as “logging elephants.” The practice was banned in Thailand in 1989, but it still happens in some areas of the country.
McNair said that four months ago in Thailand he witnessed “the extreme and heartbreaking abuse of mother and baby elephants, covered in blood and crying as they were forced by stabbing to perform such tricks at Nong Nooch Village Garden, one of thousands of unethical venues exploiting elephants.”
Update 04/25/23, 7:31 a.m. ET: This article was updated with comment from Duncan McNair.
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