Weeranat Yoodee passed away on Tuesday night (June 16), twenty-four hours after he and 30-year-old Thongpoon Boonraksatrakul, who still remains in the hospital, were attacked by the male elephant in Rayong̕s Noen Phra district.
According to witnesses, an elephant handler, known as mahout, was asking the group of friends to buy sugar cane for the animal when the 5-year-old elephant suddenly struck Weeranat with its tusk and kicked Thongpoon.
"I and other tourists in the area ran for our lives," said Kusuma Laopan, 32, who was with the pair at the time. "Luckily, the mahout stepped in and stopped the elephant, so it stopped harming other people. The mahout then led the elephants away to the other side of the road."
Witthawat Uanduangdee, the 21-year-old mahout, told reporters that he brought two elephants to Rayong from Buriram province last week, and was shocked by the incident.
"I think [the elephant] might have been startled by car headlights and engine sounds," he said.
Police say Witthawat has been charged with violating Thailand’s animal welfare law and negligence leading to death.
Elephants areroutinelybrought to beg for money in urban areas and tourist attractions around Thailand. Animal rights activists have long-criticised the practice, which was recently outlawed by new animal welfare legislation.
Under Thailand’s Animal Cruelty Prevention Act, which was passed by the interim parliament in late 2014, those caught "causing unnecessary cruelty" to animals face a B40,000 fine and two years in prison. Thai authorities have said the law applies to people who bring elephants to beg in cities.
Read original story here.