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Phuket elephant hits out at mahout

Phuket elephant hits out at mahout

PHUKET: A 15-year-old male elephant showing signs of aggressive behaviour possibly due to it being the mating season thrashed its mahout yesterday leaving the man with an injured hand.

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Tuesday 31 January 2017, 10:48AM

'Grongthong' had to be shot with five tranquillizer darts before it was sedated. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

'Grongthong' had to be shot with five tranquillizer darts before it was sedated. Photo: Eakkapop Thongtub

At 10:30am yesterday (Jan 30), Chalong Police received a call from the owner of an elephant camp in Soi Yodsanae, Moo 10, Chalong where it was reported that one of its elephants had started to be aggressive when taking tourists out on a trek.

Police advised the owner to call the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO), officers from which then went to the area in the Nakkerd Hills.

PPLO officials arrived to find police officers and the mahout, or elephant handler, watching an elephant named “Grongthong” walking through the forested area.

PPLO officers decided that it would be necessary to use a tranquillizer gun to sedate the animal and used three darts in their first attempt. This was not enough and therefore another two darts were shot.

The mahout then approached Grongthong to try to capture him, but in retaliation Grongthong thrashed the mahout with his trunk leaving the man with an injury to his hand.

JW Marriott Phuket

In November 2014, then PPLO Chief issued a stern warning to elephant camps to be careful about using elephants during breeding season when bull elephants are in musth, a highly excitable hormonal state in which the animals become unpredictable and dangerous.

Werasit Puthipairoj, who was PPLO Chief at that time, issued the warning after a mahout was killed at the Phuchada Safari kraal in Naiharn on Nov 17, 2014, by Nong Po, a 23-year-old bull elephant which was in musth.

Nong Po picked up Wittawat Salangan, 22, from Surin Province, in his trunk, slammed him to the ground and then knelt down, crushing him with his head and tusks.

That death came just two days after a similar incident in Phang Nga in which a mahout was killed and a Russian woman with an eight-month-old baby spent a terrifying 30 minutes sitting in the howdah atop the raging elephant. (See story here.)

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BenPendejo | 31 January 2017 - 18:26:58

Perhaps the saddest part of this article is that the elephant-beating mahout only got a slap on the hand...he deserved much more in return for his treatment of elephants.  An yeah... funny...call the police. You would think the appropriate number to call would be readily available in case of emergency...but not here.  And lastly, typical of Thai tour operators, the desire to pocket a few more baht...

SueOriginal | 31 January 2017 - 18:06:57


when an elephant in musth, one can do simply nothing, so it\\\'s too late.

That is why male elephants should be completely withdrawn from any public entertainment activities. They may develop musth at any time.

Male elephants were not used at all for such purposes, until number of years ago when demand well outstripped supply for females.

Kurt | 31 January 2017 - 15:40:07

I not understand these thai elephant professionals in this article.
They must know perfectly well how to go along with male elephants in musth.
Anyone knows that free male elephants live alone, just in musth time they look for company female elephants.
Don't approach/use for work, a elephant in musth time.

I actually not understand that thai government allow owners of male elephants to u...

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