Thai park strengthen fences, barricades after 11 elephants die in waterfall

09:14 | 10/10/2019
Khao Yai National Park in Thailand is beefing up safety measures around the park after 11 elephants, including a three-year-old calf, fell off the top of a waterfall known as Hell's Abyss and died.
thai park strengthen fences barricades after 11 elephants die in waterfall
Rangers reinforce barriers at Khao Yai National Park, where 11 elephants fell to their death. (Photo: AFP/Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation)

Two other elephants who fell off the 200m-high Haew Narok Waterfall survived after they were trapped on a thin, slippery sliver of rock above the churning waters.

Rangers are reinforcing barriers around the park to try and stop the creatures from wandering into the dangerous area, while officials are helping create more water and food sources nearby to discourage other elephants from returning to the deadly spot.

"I have instructed them to reinforce the fences and barricades that they currently have," natural resources and environment minister Varawut Silpa-archa told AFP.

Elephants are known to develop strong social bonds and officials believe a younger one slipped off the cliff, prompting a doomed attempt by the others to reach it.

Elephants are Thailand's national animal but numbers in the wild have dwindled to only a few thousand due to deforestation and habitat loss.

There are around 300 wild elephants in the park, which covers more than 2,000 square km of forest and grassland.

"They follow their leaders, and sometimes when the young ones fall, it is only natural that the elder ones will try and reach down and help," Varawut said.

Thailand was hit by drought this year and the elephants may have been looking for new sources of drinking water, but it is also possible they were trying to avoid contact with humans.

Varawut said the pair of elephants that survived are "alive and kicking" and on the road to recovery.

For the 11 elephants that died, authorities have installed a net to catch the carcasses when the current pushes them downstream.

AFP

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