An elephant was struck by a tourist’s car in Khao Yai National Park on New Year’s Eve, damaging the vehicle but leaving both human and pachyderm unhurt.
The collision occurred on Highway 3077 in Prachin Buri, the Protected Area Regional Office 1 reported on its Facebook page just after midnight on Tuesday.
Park officials had been patrolling the road and monitoring the movements of elephants so they could advise tourists on how to observe the wildlife safely.
Park chief Khanchit Srinoppawan said a herd of five elephants was observed at 7.50pm at the Kilometre 35 marker on Highway 3077.
A car driven by Reungwuth Buranasuk, 56, struck a bull elephant, shattering a headlight and denting the front end, but veterinarian Pattarapol Manee-on said the animal was unhurt and returned to the forest.
Reungwuth said the elephants appeared on the road so suddenly that he didn’t have time to brake.
Park officials had noted another herd, this one seven strong, on Highway 2090 less than an hour earlier.
Khao Yai National Park, a World Heritage site, spans Prachin Buri, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok and Saraburi.
Wild elephants are occasionally seen on the two highways cutting through the park and encounters with passing motorists become more common in high tourist season.
Park officials erect warning signs and advise visitors to remain at least 30 metres from any elephants, to not take flash photos or honk the horn, and to flee if the elephants show signs of stress or anger, such as extending their ears and tails.
Visitors are also warned not to speed, make loud noises or feed the animals.