Accident highlights need to protect pachyderm population

national February 24, 2018 01:00

By THE NATION

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AS THE search continued yesterday for an elephant that was injured on Thursday after being hit by a pickup truck in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary in Chachoengsao province, sanctuary chief Decha Nilwichien revealed nearly 14,000 wild animals die per year on the road that cuts through the sanctuary.



Deputy Prime Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan had proposed in 2015 to permanently close the 20-kilometre section of the road that cuts through the sanctuary, even though the new route around the forest would add 40km to people’s journeys, Decha said. 

When the ongoing construction detour is complete, the problematic section would be closed and thus would reduce losses of wildlife and people, Decha said. The detour would allow motorists from Chacherngsao’s Tha Takiab district to Sa Kaew’s Khao Chakan area to no longer have to use highways 3259 and 3076 and the wild elephants would be left in peace.

A source at the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) has revealed that the wild elephant population in the 130,000-rai forest covering five eastern provinces, was 422 as of last April. That figure is rising by 8.2 per cent a year and it is expected that the elephants will spill out of the forest’s eastern side in the next 10 years due to rising population, the shrinking sources of food in forest and the temptation of farmland crops. 

The 67,400-rai (10,784-hectare) Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary alone now has 275 elephants after two elephants earlier died.

The source said the DNP has been working on measures to keep the elephants in the |forest by creating more food and water for them.

As for the search for the pachyderm that sustained two hind-leg injuries after the Thursday crash, Decha said his team had traced its impaired footprints to a two-km spot from the road before the trail went cold. 

A team of three veterinarians and one animal science expert was on stand-by at the sanctuary office to treat the elephant once it is found, he added.

Veterinarian Pattarapol Manee-on from the DNP suggested the elephant might have been in an adrenaline rush after the crash and fled into the jungle despite its leg injuries.

Three or four days later, however, its legs would become swollen and inflamed and it would probably even sustain broken bones, he said.

Pickup driver Jamras Phromchan, 46, said he and a friend, Bancha Saesiang, 65, were heading home in Sa Kaew when they encountered a group of three elephants and hit one of them. 

The truck careered into the side of the road while the elephants fled.

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