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The elephant involved in today's death of a handler on Phuket

Second Berserk Elephant Tramples Handler to Death, This Time on Phuket

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
PHUKET: An elephant killed his trainer at a camp in southern Phuket today, the second fatal trampling of a handler in the Phuket region within three days.

The male elephant named ''Por'' turned on his mahout about 10.30am in a screened compound, minutes before tourists were to begin trekking from the Phuchada Safari in Rawai.

Police were still at the scene gleaning details from staff after the trampling. Handler Wittawat Salangam, 22, was unchaining the elephant when the 25-year-old beast turned on him.

Today's tragedy follows an incident on Sunday north of Phuket in which a Russian tourist and her young daughter rode the back of an 18-year-old bull elephant named Meaw as it trampled handler Suk Sapmak, 60.

Rescuers managed to subdue the creature with tranquliser darts.

The deaths in the neighboring province of Phang Nga and now in southern Phuket are likely to bring renewed calls for male elephants to be banned by law from taking tourists on treks.

The Director of Livestock Phuket, Weerasit Puthipairoj, told Phuketwan after the first death that male elephants sometimes went on rampages during musth, the strong mating urge that male elephants feel periodically.

''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 vast majority of about 215 elephants used for tourist treks on Phuket at 30 camps are female, he said.

Two deaths in the space of three days are likely to bring calls for males to be banned by law.

Some mahouts with male elephants, it appears, ignore their social responsibility to take their charges into seclusion and suffer the consequences.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I think the use of these magnificant animals in this manner is just downright cruel. Readers may not be aware on how elephants are trained (crushing ritual) to get to the stage of carrying tourists, which can only be described as totally barbaric.

I urge you all who are not aware of these issues to do a simple web search, there you will find a whole wealth of information on the subject.

Elephant riding must be banned. Tourists whilst I accept are in Thailand to enjoy the experience, must also share the responsibility that goes with it. Now that you know, spread the word !

Posted by reader on November 18, 2014 13:48


Authorities should issue an order to have all males elephants off the camps at all times.

Posted by Sue on November 18, 2014 13:53


I thought all male elephants were supposed to be banned from being used in tourist attractions after the last serious accident happened more than 1y ago on Phuket.

It appears to have been just another case of Phuket Way - all words, no action.

I hope this death is not being ignored just because the victim was not a tourist and thus the incident not as damaging to tourism as it could be.

Posted by Herbert on November 18, 2014 14:17


I wouldn't exactly call this elephant berserk...just doing his normal musth thing...The so called expert trainers we have at these camps should know better when its that time of year and take the necessary precautions....aside from that, Bull elephants shouldn't be used for riding at anytime.

Posted by sky on November 18, 2014 14:33


Thai elephants get molested/beaten/tortured to make them obey. The elephants, specially the males, store the bad thai treatments in their minds. Sometimes these beautiful intelligent animals have enough to be daily tortured with iron hook sticks. Than things happen during their musth. Now only mahouts died, but tourists could have died too! Who, here in Thailand, is responsible for the safety of tourists, riding a elephant?

Posted by Kurt on November 18, 2014 14:40


Well, as they say, 'an elephant never forgets...'

Posted by Sam Wilko on November 18, 2014 15:56


"Handler Wittawat Salangam, 22,..."

How many years experience can a 22 year old have had?

Posted by Smithy on November 18, 2014 16:45

Editor Comment:

Not enough.


Let these wonderful animals life their lives in freedom. Would you like to be chained and trained for carrying small animals on your back???

Posted by Animal Friend on November 19, 2014 17:45


The last time there was a trampling in Phuket there was the same talk of not using males ..... and there will possibly be the same discussion after the next trampling.

Posted by geoff on November 19, 2014 19:29

Editor Comment:

Has there been a recent trampling on Phuket? I recall one in Phang Nga.


Elephants are not on earth to work or entertain humans, they are wildlife which are supposed to be free in camps. Elephants who tramp their owners are usually frustrated and they also have been treated bad/cruel.Their handlers torture them by hitting them using sicks iron bars etc. It is time that ALL entertaining the animals do must be banned. Why did they use bull elephants in any case if they knew they are having problems with them from time to time. I think there must be a law to stop these wonderful animals to do any work or entertaining!!!

Posted by Anna-Mari Schoeman on April 14, 2015 14:09

Editor Comment:

Sure. Do something. Tell us what we know does not count as doing something.

Saturday December 9, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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