Friday 25 June 2021

Elephant crashes into kitchen in Thailand.

A Thai woman woken by a loud crashing noise was surprised to find the head of a large male Elephant protruding into her kitchen. Rachadawan Phungprasopporn, 29, of the village of Chalermkiat Pattana in Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, was disturbed at about 2.00 am local time on Saturday 20 June 2021, and found that part of the exterior wall of her kitchen had been demolished by the Elephant, identified as Boonchuay, a large male who (mostly) resides in the nearby Kaeng Krachan National Park. Boonchuay spent some time rummaging through the contents of the kitchen, apparently looking for something to eat, before leaving. Intrusions by Elephants from the park have become a problem in Chalermkiat Pattana, particularly on market days, when they are attracted by the smell of food. This is the second time Ms Phungprasopporn's home has been damaged by an Elephant, with the incident on this occasion causing an estimated 50 000 baht (US$1565) in damage, although the national park have agreed to pay for the repairs.

An Asian Elephant named Boonchuay exploring a kitchen for food. Rachadawan Phungprasopporn/The Guardian.

The wild Elephant population of Thailand has fallen from about 100 000 in 1850 to about 2700, largely due to deforestation and Human expansion into their range. Many animals will simply flee such incursions, or, if unable to, are likely to end up in the cooking pots of hungry villagers. Elephants, however, are a somewhat different proposition. They are large animals, not used to being challenged by other animals in their home ranges, and typically live in matriarchal herds of up to a hundred, with herds holding large territories, criss-crossed by Elephant trails. Elephants encountering Human objects they dislike are unlikely to attempt to go round it, and are quite likely to maximise the damage they cause to show their displeasure.

Residents of Chalermkiat Pattana and neighbouring villages are reported to be reasonably well disposed towards the Elephants, and willing to work with park authorities to find a solution to incursions, which cause regular damage to homes, businesses and crops in the area. However, Elephant incursions can be extremely damaging, and if remedies are not found, and the number of Elephant-related incidents continues to rise, there is clearly the potential for a break down in such good relations.

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