Greetings From Thailand: Elephant Kills Its Keeper, Runs Off Into Forest With Three Tourists On Its Back
Here's something I didn't know: in Thailand, there are more elephants in captivity than in the wild. And it's nearly twice as many: about 4,000 to 2,500. Most domestic elephants are used in the tourism industry, packing people around on their backs on short excursions.
Ancient tradition? Not really -- the elephant-riding craze only got started in earnest in 1989, when Thailand's logging industry went bust. The government outlawed logging because the forests were disappearing.
The problem now is that the elephants in captivity are being overworked, and sometimes that manifests itself in horrible ways. Today in Chiang Mai, an elephant turned on its keeper, goring him to death, before running off into the forest with three tourists still on its back.
Other keepers rode elephants in pursuit and calmed the animal, leading it back with the tourists shaken but unhurt. AFP:
"Elephants work every day, of every month, basically 365 days per year," said Edwin Wiek, a campaigner from Wildlife Friends of Thailand. "If you had to do the same, you would get stressed. It is the same for elephants. At some point they become crazy and we can't control them."
In another incident in June in Thailand, and elephant standing next to its keeper suddenly attacked two people eating dinner at an outdoor restaurant, killing one and injuring the other.
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