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Elephant Rampage North of Phuket: 'One Dead, Tourists Injured'

Elephant Rampage North of Phuket: 'One Dead, Tourists Injured'

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Today's Updating Report

TWO MALE elephants fought over a female on a trekking ride through Khao Sok National Park, north of Phuket, trampling one tourist to death and leaving several others with injuries.

A Swiss woman has been killed, and an Australian woman and two other victims are being treated for injuries in Bangkok Hospital Phuket in Phuket City.

One person remains in intensive care after the incident, which occurred yesterday, Phuketwan reporters learned at the hospital.

A Swiss couple, an Australian couple and an English couple were riding the elephants. One of the English pair has 12 broken ribs, Phuketwan has been told.

The tour group is believed to be run by a well-known Phuket brand, Siam Safari. A person at Siam Safari on Phuket today declined to confirm an incident had taken place.

The three injured tourists arrived at Bangkok Hospital Phuket, in Yaowarat Road, Phuket City, at 1am today.

It is believed some of the injuries occurred when the tourists jumped from the elephants. Mahouts were unable to control two of the beasts.

The deputy Surat Thani provincial veterinarian, Piya Naktongkul, told Phuketwan today that problems arose when two elephant tours intersected in the jungle about 3pm.

He said he had been told by a Siam Safari staffer that four elephants met on the track.

One male, Buki, fought another male, Bookburg, for the attention of a female elephant, Noi. In the commotion, the Swiss woman toppled from Bookburg and was trampled to death, dying at the scene.

At least one tourist was injured in trying to dismount from Buki. The mahout on Noi managed to control his animal.

The injured were taken first to the local Panom Hospital before being relayed on to the better-equipped Phuket hospital.

Male elephant usually go through a period known as musth when they are liable to rampage.

One male elephant went berserk on Phuket in 2010 and several riders were fortunate to escape, although a Swedish man suffered serious leg injuries. The vast majority of elephants in camps on Phuket are female.

Khao Sok, in Surat Thani province, comprises the largest area of virgin forest in Southern Thailand and is a remnant of rain forest which is older and more diverse than the Amazon.

It's a popular destination for tourists from Phuket and Phang Nga.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


So now there are traffic jams in the jungle??? Very informative, a 'musth' read.

Posted by Jon on February 23, 2011 18:31


Very funny, Jon. Did you read that somebody actually died?

RIP Swiss lady.

Posted by Mike Boyd on February 23, 2011 23:06


Horrific incident. Condolences to all affected.

I used to enjoy jogging up the road to the viewpoint between Rawai and Kata. But now there are more than a few elephant camps by the road. On a recent morning run, one of the behemoths was unchained while his mahout prepared to bathe him near the roadside. The elephant made a motion in my direction as I approached, which alarmed the mahout enough to shout and guide the beast away from the road.

And it alarmed me enough that I will not be running up that hill anymore.

Posted by Treelover on February 24, 2011 08:43


My name is Sean Gothe (Australian). I was on female elephant (Noi) with my
wife Helen Gothe. Our elephant was attacked.

Our mahout on Noi was unable to control his animal. My wife was thrown from the animal and has suffered significant injuries including very deep bruising and large abrasions to significant areas of her body as well as a broken rib. She has difficulty walking or even sitting up in bed. There was a Swiss couple (the lady has 12 broken ribs and a punctured lung) who also remain in hospital along with my wife. The third elephant mentioned was ridden by an Englishman and a Swiss woman (now deceased). They were not a couple.

My wife Helen was left on the ground after being thrown from the elephant when the front bar bounced out of its slot (on the right hand side). Helen was no longer able to hold on. The out of control elephant continued back towards the camp . The elephant was eventually brought under control only a short distance before the camp site. It was 20 - 30 minutes before I received word that my wife was alive after being thrown to the ground.
Neither Senior Management or the Proprietor have contacted me or (I believe) any of the injured more than 24 hours after the tragic events. I have asked the kind subordinate staff on numerous occasions to arrange for a senior person to call me or any of the injured but they refuse. Most of my contact has been with a very helpful and obliging young 24 year old lady and a local (lower level supervisor) Tuk. The company to this point has provided the injured with a bowl of fruit.

Sean Gothe

Posted by Sean Gothe on February 24, 2011 09:05

Editor Comment:

Hello Sean, Thanks for the update. A reporter went to the hospital yesterday to try to talk to you or your wife, but wasn't permitted to intrude.
There was a fatality involving an Australian honeymoon couple a year ago, on a Siam Safari vehicle coming down from the Big Buddha hill. At that time, Siam Safari did have a marketing officer who went to visit the surviving bride. Tour firms involved in tragedies need to understand their moral obligations after tragic (and perhaps unavoidable) incidents. It's a surprise that such a popular brand should treat you all with such disdain.


I would have thought you should involve your consul in Phuket, Sean, who would I'm sure, help to get Siam Safari to honor their obligations. Presumably they have an insurance policy to cover accidents such as this?

Posted by Wellington on February 24, 2011 11:08

Editor Comment:

The honorary consul and the marketing manager from Siam Safari were both at the hospital today, so we are told. Envoys are not empowered to do more than ensure the protection of citizens. Beyond safety and security, compensation issues are up to the individuals.


Time to stop elephant attractions. Check out this MSNBC report
Warning graphic pic of baby elephant being beaten.
Burmese Elephants being bred and tortured as babies to smuggle in to Thailand for work with tourists.

Posted by Cap't. Kirk on March 4, 2011 20:49

Editor Comment:

Yes, we mentioned it in PhuketWATCH.


Yes and I saw the link elsewhere. I wish you would put that pic up and paste the link. Really, please. This has to stop, it's inexcusable.

Posted by Cap't. Kirk on March 5, 2011 11:50

Editor Comment:

Send you annual subscription, Captain Kirk, and we will consider your suggestion.

Thursday July 18, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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