YALA – A motorcyclist has been trampled to death by five elephants in Southern Thailand after being encircled by the wild animals. It is the latest deadly encounter in Thailand where the large mammals are both venerated and feared.
Masaree Samae, 40, was killed in the early morning attack in the country’s southernmost Yala province where many of Thailand’s rubber plantations are based.
Police chief Sathit Woonchoom said: “The victim was riding his motorbike on the way to tap rubber and was circled by five elephants.
“I conducted the autopsy with a doctor and found wounds on his back and head.”
The officer said he heard elephants rustling in nearby bushes when he arrived at the scene to investigate.
Thailand’s wild elephant population has dwindled to about 2,700 from a peak of 100,000 in 1850, according to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre.
Deforestation and loss of habitat has brought them into closer contact with humans in recent decades.
Villagers have also killed the elephants despite them being a protected species and they are also poached or domesticated for entertainment and tourism.
Thailand has come under criticism for its notorious elephant tourism trade.
The threatened animals are widely used in circus performances, to give rides, or in films and on TV.
In November last year an elephant that has starred in feature films and commercials crushed its owner to death in Chiang Mai.
Zoo officials said the animal was in musth – a state of high aggression among males when they experience hormonal surges – when the accident happened.
Elephant Attacks Motorcyclist at Khao Yai National Park (Thailand)