Six Elephants Fall To Their Deaths Trying To Save Each Other From Waterfall
The incident is believed to have unfolded after a baby elephant slipped down Haew Narok (Hell's Fall) in Khao Yai National Park at 3am local time on Saturday.
Thailand's Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) said officials were called to the scene because a group of elephants were blocking a nearby road. The body of a three-year-old elephant was then found at the bottom of the waterfall three hours later, with five other bodies discovered shortly after.
Two other elephants were also found struggling on a cliff edge nearby and they were moved by authorities, who are monitoring their condition.
The founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Edwin Wiek, said the pair may struggle to survive, as elephants rely on large herds for protection and finding food. They may also suffer from the ordeal emotionally, with the mammals known to display grief in such circumstances.
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Wiek said: "It's like losing half your family. There's nothing you can do, it's nature unfortunately."
The waterfall was closed to the public after the incident and national resources and environment minister, Varawut Silpa-archa, said incidents like this were quite common at the site, with eight elephants dying there in 1992.
Around 7,000 Asian elephants live in Thailand - though more than half of those live in captivity.
In Sri Lanka, around 60 elephants were forced to take part in a Buddhist festival in Kandy in August, according to the Save Elephant Foundation. The charity shared pictures of an emaciated elephant called Tikiri, who they claim was made to parade through the streets for 10 consecutive nights during Esala Perahera, with colourful robes hiding her frail frame.
Lek Chailert, the founder of the charity, said: "Tikiri joins in the parade early every evening until late at night every night for 10 consecutive nights, amidst the noise, the fireworks, and smoke.
"She walks many kilometres every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony. No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition, because of her costume.
"No one sees the tears in her eyes, injured by the bright lights that decorate her mask, no one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short shackled while she walks."
Featured Image Credit: Thailand DNP