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One of two cars seriously damaged by the rampaging elephant on Phuket

Phuket Elephant Rampage: Swedish Pair Injured

Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Phuketwan Updating Report

A RAMPAGING elephant tossed two Swedish tourists from its back and demolished a tree that fell onto a car in Kalim this week.

One of the Swedes broke both heels is his leap from the elephant's back and remains in Phuket International Hospital. The other Swede was treated for minor injuries and allowed to leave.

Dr Jirayu Niranwiroj, a veterinarian from the Department of Livestock Development, said the incident happened on Monday evening at Kalim elephant camp.

He said the male elephant, named Captain, was aged 20, had tusks and was fully grown. The elephant knocked down a large tree that crushed the bonnet of a parked car.

The injured Swedes had been part of a group of tourists who came to Phuket on holiday, and on Sunday found themselves guests at the surprise beach wedding of friends, a Swedish newspaper reported online.

'Aftonbladet' named the broken-heels Swede as Gustav Karlsson, 31, who was on holiday on Phuket with his wife, Hanna Agnarsson, 31.

A group from the wedding had gone for an elephant ride the next day.

''Suddenly something happened,'' Dr Agnarsson told the newspaper. ''The elephant that Gustav and his brother John rode on went crazy.

''It ran completely amok, overturned cars, sheds and trees. My husband and John were just trying to protect themselves as best they could.''

One of the leaping Swedes landed on the windshield of a car, the newspaper report said.

Seconds later, the elephant threw the car down a steep slope.

''Ambulance and police came and they put my husband on a stretcher. Then the elephant suddenly back, "Dr Agnarsson said.

''Everyone fled and Gustav had to crawl to safety. He was lying on the ground and screamed in pain, but no one dared to come forward and help him as long as the elephant was there.''

The rampage lasted about 20 minutes before Captain calmed down.

Dr Jirayu said today: ''This kind of incident is rare, but mature male elephants can be a problem from time to time.''

He oversees the health of the island's 177 elephants and said he hopes to train mahoots in how to use anaesthetic dart guns in case of future problems.

''There's usually one month every year, depending on the elephant, where male elephants will start to misbehave. It can start about the age of 12 and continue until they are 20 or so.

''Most of the elephants on the island, though, are never a problem.''

The doctor checked Captain yesterday and said he should be kept in isolation for a month, or until he is calmer. There are five elephants at the Kalim camp.

An elephant ride is one of the trips that most tourists take when they visit Thailand.

Dr Jirayu said it was important that the elephant camp managers on the island were aware of the elephants' needs and moods.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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mmmmm,let's see
cross out jet ski rides, tuk-tuk rides,
elephant rides, jungle or sightseeing rides in those open trucks,
airport limos both legal and illegal, all those car for hire guys standing around on the street corners of Karon and Kata.

did I leave anything out?

Posted by Frank Visakay on January 27, 2010 11:51

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I can't believe they use male elephants for tourist rides. I was told by a hilltribe man years ago that males of any age could never be 'tamed', and could never be trusted around people. Scary!

Posted by Lana on January 27, 2010 12:38

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I guess the male was in musth - that's when they are less predictable. Of the 177 I think the vast majority of elephants are female. The key is the mahout - they need to know when to take the male away from elephant treks.

This will often clash with the desire of the camp owner to maximise elephant use but there needs to be an understanding of safety within the business.

Posted by Duncan on January 27, 2010 13:06

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"did I leave anything out?"

Yes, Bungy Jumping.

Posted by Treelover on January 27, 2010 13:30

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"Leave anything out"
Trips back from the Similans in Top Heavy Dive Vessels, Gas filled Guest Houses on Tropical Islands, early morning hanky panky on Public beaches especially if you're female, dealing with dodgy farang estate agents who promise, don't deliver, and run off with all your money, and the list goes on & on & on

Posted by Couch Potato on January 27, 2010 16:30

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All companies that use elephants should know when their male elephants are in musth, they should know that you never go trekking with an elephant in musth.

Posted by elephant expert on January 27, 2010 21:41

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A heel injury is much worse than it sounds.
Best wishes to you and speedy recovery.

Posted by Philip on January 28, 2010 06:57

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These animals have no lives, removed too young from mothers, chained up for the next 30-60 years and beaten about the face. Time to stop their exploitation, plenty of land in Thailand to return the elephants to a more natural lifestyle.

Posted by Christy on January 28, 2010 08:12


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