Elephant kills trainer in Phuket

An elephant killed his trainer at a Rawai camp today, the second trampling of a handler in the Phuket region within days. The male elephant named ”Por” turned on its mahout about 10.30 am in a screened compound, minutes before tourists were to begin trekking from the Phuchada Safari. Police were still at the scene gleaning details from staff after the trampling.

Today’s tragedy follows an incident on Sunday north of Phuket in which a Russian tourist and her young daughter rode the back of an 18-year-old bull elephant named Meaw as it trampled handler Suk Sapmak, 60 before rescuers managed to subdue the creature with tranquilizer darts. The deaths in neighboring Phang Nga and now in southern Phuket are likely to bring renewed calls for male elephants to be banned from taking tourists on treks.

The Director of Livestock Phuket, Weerasit Puthipairoj, told Phuketwan after the first death that male elephants sometimes went on rampages during musth, the strong mating urge that male elephants feel periodical. ”It’s accepted that mahouts with male elephants need to isolate their animals in the jungle once the telltale signs of musth approaching become apparent,” Khun Weerasit said.

The vast majority of about 210 elephants used for tourist treks on Phuket at 30 camps are female, he said. Two deaths in the space of three days are likely to bring calls for males to be banned by law. phuketwan.com