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Tragic End to Majestic Beasts: Thai Durian Plantation Turns Killing Field for Elephants – Could This Happen in Your Backyard?

Located on the edge of the Tai Rom Yen National Park, in the Kanchanadit district’s Khlong Sa in Moo 9 village, a durian plantation became the scene of a tragic wildlife incident. Two majestic elephants aged about 20-25 years and 30-35 years were found lifeless, a result of electrocution from a live wire set up around the plantation.

The plantation owner, Suwannee, aimed to fortify her durian trees against any threats with this wire fence, but little did she know the grave consequence that her measure would yield. Unfortunately, two denizens of the wild succumbed to this unnatural death, stirring the local communities and calling the attention of park officials and veterinarians.

Upon receiving the news from local residents, the park chief, Chaiyaporn Chaiyos, together with a team of experts, arrived at the gruesome scene one Thursday morning. One of the elephants was found with a deep burn wound on its trunk – a testament to the gruesome incident, no doubt from the moment it made contact with the live wire. Its companion, presumably trying to aid it, met the same tragic fate.

As a response to this distressing event, Suwannee was charged with a serious violation of the 2018 Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act. The consequence of her actions, which directly led to the deaths of the two wild elephants, carries a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison and, or in addition to, a fine totaling one million baht.

This melancholic incident underlines a worrying trend in wildlife-human conflict. In recent years, the elephant population has been seeing a steady increase, and with human settlements and activities edging closer to their habitats, unfortunate encounters between the two have risen. Several instances in the past five years have reported similar tales of elephants being accidentally electrocuted, either by direct contact with power lines or through electrified barriers installed by farmers.

Indeed, it’s clear as day that this increasing ‘jumbo issue’ warrants immediate action and thoughtful solutions. The events unfolding at the durian plantation in Kanchanadit district reiterate the need to bring this issue to the forefront of national discourse, ensuring the preservation of wildlife while also addressing the concerns of human settlers. Ultimately, it becomes a collective responsibility to ensure that the elephants enjoy their rightful space on Earth, unharmed by the steady march of human progress.

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