Guide trampled to death by Thai elephant after tourist pulls tail
CHON BURI, PATTAYA A 35-year-old Chinese tour guide was trampled to death by a bull elephant after he tried to save his tour group from the animal at an elephant camp near Pattaya, reported Thai media.
The Thai media reports said a Chinese tourist had provoked the elephant by pulling its tail, but Thai police have yet to ascertain if that was the cause of the incident.
The owner of the camp and an elephant keeper, or mahout, have been charged with recklessness causing death and injuries, reported the Bangkok Post.
The incident took place around 5pm last Thursday, when the tour guide, Mr He Yongjie, and his group of around 30 tourists arrived at the Sam Liam Thong Kham elephant camp in Bang Lamung district.
Two tourists returning from an elephant ride were still on top of 17-year-old bull elephant Plai Uthen when some of the tourists rushed to take pictures of it.
As they were posing next to the elephant, one tourist pulled its tail, reported the Chiang Rai Times, quoting eye witnesses.
The startled elephant then charged into the crowd. The tour guide scrambled to protect members of his tour group and was caught in the path of the beast, which knocked him down and trampled him to death.
Several mahouts rushed over to try to get the elephant under control.
One of the two women riding Plai Uthen fell off its back in the mayhem, while the other managed to hold on until a mahout managed to calm the animal.
A third person, a 54-year-old Chinese tourist, was treated for a punctured rib and lung.
Security guard Sakda Malee told the Bangkok Post that some tourists were hurt after they fell while fleeing.
Mr Rangsan Panawatanakul, manager of the elephant camp, said there had never been such an incident at the camp before.
Plai Uthen will be retired from giving rides.