11 July 2024

Officials from Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and local administration organisations have been working on a way to encourage about 100 elephants to return into the jungle, after they were spotted foraging for food outside their habitat in the Thap Lan National Park.

Chief of the park, which covers about 2,240km2 in Prachin Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima provinces, Praphatpong Sukprakan, told Thai PBS that it is quite rare for so many elephants to gather together to forage for food in such a small area in Khao Pradu of Khon Buri district of Nakhon Ratchasima, only about four kilometres from local communities.

He said he has sought advice from experts about this unusual phenomenon, adding that, usually, only 20-30 elephants from a herd are spotted in a limited area.

He pointed out that the number of elephants in Thap Lan National Park, Thailand’s second largest, increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the park was closed to visitors for many months, adding that food in the park, which used to be plentiful, may have become scarce due to the increased population.

He admitted, however, that he is concerned that the elephants may wander further to find food near communities and may feed on their crops if they are not encouraged back into their habitat in the park.

The park chief said that he will propose that the department erect some sort of barricade on the routes frequented by the elephants, to prevent them from wandering out of their habitat.