In the beautiful, lush green stretches of Thailand’s Kui Buri National Park, wandering wild elephants are a common sight. Particularly, the majestic creatures have been the prominent patrons of the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in recent years. This sanctuary connects several provinces, including bustling Chachoengsao, serene Chanthaburi, tourist hotspot Chon Buri, stunning Rayong, and agricultural haven Prachin Buri. Each corner of these provinces has begun to experience a 20-year old tale narrating the ironically harmonious intrusion of wild elephants venturing out of their natural sanctuary into human life, in the July of 2022.
A representative network consisting of individuals whose daily life has been affected by these interactions filed a formal complaint with the House of Representatives. The network members, comprising 10 officials, approached the dedicated complaint-receiving office to express their escalating concerns. Their plight was received and acknowledged by Jet Anukulpokarat, the director of the office, who was acting on behalf of the Speaker of the House, Wan Muhamad Noor Matha.
These proboscidean visitors, in their quest for food, have led to substantial destruction of farmers’ properties, crop fields, and vegetation. In addition to material damage, these conflicts have unfortunately claimed and threatened numerous lives. The network feared the jeopardizing impact on both human and elephant lives resulting from these steadily exacerbating frictions.
Faced with urgent circumstances, the network implored the House of Representatives to enact legislation addressing this issue promptly, effectively, and comprehensively. Two occurrences reinforced the urgency of these requests. The first incident took place on October 7th, where a local villager’s life was tragically taken by an elephant while tapping rubber on his plantation. The second occurrence saw brave volunteers sustain injuries during their pursuit of leading these elephants back into their forest home, in the Tha Kradan area of Chachoengsao’s Sanam Chaikhet district.
Adding salt to the injury, a young male elephant, estimated around five years old, was found lifeless near Moo 12 village in Tha Kradan. The inspection of wildlife officers, police, and local leaders at the death site confirmed nine bullet wounds on the elephant’s body, insinuating an unfolded narrative of retaliation by exasperated villagers using a 9mm shotgun.
Suwichan Suwannakha, the diligent secretary-general of the distressed network, voiced the locals’ plea to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. They collectively urged the ministry to formulate a phoenix strategy aimed at restoring these remarkable creatures back into their wildlife sanctuary. By strategically building blocks preventing the elephants from wandering into human habitats, they hope to mitigate future property losses and ensure the safety of both the locals and extraordinary elephants with whom they share their beautiful homeland.