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Elephant trekkers recover after the nightmarish ride north of Phuket

Elephant Rampage North of Phuket Ends With Mahout's Death and Tranquilliser Darts

Monday, November 17, 2014
PHUKET: A Russian tourist and her teen daughter were recovering today from a nightmarish ride on a rampaging killer elephant as officials warned of the dangers of the musth season.

A male elephant at a camp in Phang Nga killed its mahout by trampling him after tossing the man off yesterday.

The two tourists, still seated on the elephant's back, endured the killing and the tension filled 30 minutes that followed.

Rescuers feared the elephant could flee deep into surrounding jungle, with the two tourists on board.

Fortunately, stuck by two tanquilliser darts and then controlled by a second mahout who used a slope to jump onto the large animal's back, the ramapging elephant was eventually subdued.

Many tourists from Phuket ride elephants on the island or go north for an outing to ride in Phang Nga, where there are greater stretches of wilderness.

The Director of Livestock Phuket, Weerasit Puthipairoj, said today that male elephants sometimes went on rampages during musth, the mating season.

The vast majority of about 210 elephants used for tourist treks on Phuket at 30 camps are female, he said.

''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 killer elephant, Meaw, was 18 years old and possibly considered too young for musth by his mahouit, Suk Subbak, aged 60.

The pair had arrived at the Phang Nga camp two years ago from Surin province.

Rescuers urged the Russians on the enraged elephant to ''stay calm and hold tight'' during their ordeal.

While there was no law against male elephants being used in trekking business, Khun Weerasit said the mahouts had a moral obligation to isolated the beasts during musth.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


My understanding that male elephants shoukd not be used at all for such entertainment, there should be no male elephants in the herd at all.

Few years ago it was still possible to find such elephant camps with no male elephants, but now the best what can achieved is to ask not to ride a male elephant - but it is absolutely not enough in terms of safety , if neighbour elephant will become berserk.

Posted by Sue on November 17, 2014 13:08


Well let's hope he was one of those old mean mahouts that dealt out unnecessary beathings.

This whole notion of mahouts and their special bond is rubbish, at least in these camps. Trust me know I have from a bird's eye point of view.

I have seen the mahouts (and heard the elephants sream) on a daily basis for years get vicious beatings and seen the blood afterwards.

I do not know what the solution is for all these elephants but seems that some sanctuaries do not use the same harsh treatments.

Posted by Vfaye on November 17, 2014 14:02


Too often money is chosen over moral responsibility, the Mahout paid this price with his life. Phuket dodged another headline as the tourists are luckily safe thanks to some brave men. RIP mahout.

Posted by Jon on November 17, 2014 14:25


A male elephant in musth is a very dangerous animale.
While there was no law against male elephants being used in trekking business, Khun Weerasit said the mahouts had a moral obligation to isolated the beasts during musth.
The problem is that the elephants eat every day even if it's not working. In Thailand, money is money.

Posted by Retired Roadworker on November 17, 2014 15:09

Editor Comment:

Male elephants should not be in trekking camps. Full stop. Simple and safe.


Nice to read that mr Weerasit talks about the 'moral obligation' of the Mahouts. Mr Weerasit, who is checking the on 'moral obligations' of the mahouts in the interest of foreign tourist safety. Jet skies, tigers, now (again) elephant. I want to read now: WHO IS RESPONSEBLE?

Posted by Kurt on November 17, 2014 20:11


Rescuers urged the Russians on the enraged elephant to ''stay calm and hold tight'' during their ordeal
Easier said than done they just watched the elephants handler trampled to death absolutely terrifying.

Posted by slickmelb on November 17, 2014 23:12


If tourists were made aware how many of these animals are "trained", they might opt not to patronise the businesses.

Posted by The Night Mare on November 18, 2014 07:31


I have no pity for the handlers of Elephants who use these poor magnificent creatures as a tourist plaything! Karma! Som nom na! I hope the Elephant is ok it will take a long time to recover from having Russians crawling all over your back!

Posted by Mr Wolf on November 18, 2014 08:07

Editor Comment:

Drivel, Mr Wolf.


Not drivel Ed, i have had a Russian crawling over me before, it took pills and cream to get rid of the affects over time! (Now its drivel!)

Posted by Mr Wolf on November 18, 2014 08:52

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