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Most encounters with elephants on Phuket are friendly

Phuket's Two-Time Rampaging Elephant Free to Keep Trekking

Friday, September 23, 2011
News Analysis

PHUKET: A rogue elephant responsible for two terrifying rampages on Phuket in which the legs of tourists were broken could already be back making elephant treks on Phuket.

Captain, a 22-year-old male, attacked another elephant on a trek on September 12, leaving Ukrainian honeymooner Tetiana Meia, 26, still recovering today in a Phuket hospital from a compound leg fracture.

Swedish tourist Gustav Karlsson, 31, suffered similar breaks when he leapt from the back of Captain in full rampage early last year.

Pancake, the 30-year-old female elephant being pursued by Captain in the latest incident, is being treated at an elephant clinic in Krabi for tusk wounds inflicted through her four-centimetre thick skin.

The honeymooners were riding Pancake. Two American tourists were riding Captain. Rampages are nightmarish, with people caught in them fearing being trampled or tusked.

In February, after the death of a 63-year-old Swiss tourist in a rampage in Phang Nga, Phuketwan called for male elephants to be banned from taking tourists on treks on Phuket and around the Andaman region. Today we repeat that call.

It is believed the tourism brand involved in hiring the elephant in the fatal Phang Nga rampage no longer uses male elephants. However, Captain and other male elephants are still in use by trekking companies on Phuket.

The man who oversees the health of Phuket's 189 elephants, Dr Jirayu Niranwiroj of the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office, said today that the first incident in which Captain went on a rampage last year was because of musth, the period each month when male elephants go ''on heat.''

Elephant trekking companies on Phuket recognise that males could rampage in season, and now keep them from tourist treks at that time, Dr Niranwiroj said.

The cause of this month's terrifying rampage was different. It occurred because Captain has taken an unusual disliking to Pancake, Dr Niranwiroj said.

''It's very unusual but elephants are social creatures, just like humans,'' he said. ''They have loves and hates, too.

''Captain doesn't like Pancake. The owner of the Camp Chang in Kalim will keep them separated in future,'' Dr Niranwiroj said.

Camp Chang is recorded as having five elephants, two of them male. They are Captain and Bar, 30. Pancake shares the camp with females BMW, 38, and Sexy, 46.

Of Phuket's 189 elephants, 18 are male. The vast majority of elephants used for trekking on Phuket and throughout the Andaman are female - for obvious reasons.

Tourists keen to ride an elephant on Phuket or around the region are advised to check the sex of the elephant before going on a trek.
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Comments have been disabled for this article.


He doesn't deserve to be Captain any more. From now on, he will be known as Tuk-Tuk and then people will have an idea of his temperament.

Posted by Greg on September 23, 2011 11:27

Editor Comment:

Or maybe Tusk-Tusk.


If people knew these animals are purposely bred and then weaned from their mothers with atrocious beatings, they would not patronize these attractions.

Posted by Horse Doctor on September 23, 2011 11:52


give an elephant ten years of mistreatment by mahouts and tourists and there's a good chance it will be on the rampage!!

Posted by another steve on September 23, 2011 12:21


Your final comment that "Tourists are advised to check the sex of the elephant before going on a trek." will only help if everyone checks, as the elephant they were riding on was a female

Posted by Proofreader on September 24, 2011 00:42


Send back the elephant where they belong...Jungle.
Male elephants are too dangerous and many tourists in Thailand have lost life already; so, they should not work as tourist sideshow.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on September 24, 2011 08:48

Thursday May 23, 2024
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