Enraged elephant kills Chinese tour guide in Chon Buri

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Two tourists enjoy a ride on an elephant during a trek near Chiang Mai. They are generally peaceful animals but can be upset by overwork or harsh treatment by a mahout. Photo: iStock

An angry bull elephant killed a Chinese tour guide at an elephant camp in Chon Buri, southeast of Bangkok, on Thursday evening.

The tour guide was trampled to death at about 5.30pm, allegedly after someone angered the animal by pulling its tail, according to a report in the Bangkok Post.

He Yongjie, 34, was trampled by a 17-year-old male elephant named “Plai Uthen” at the Sam Liam Thong Kham elephant camp in Bang Lamung district, which is close to Pattaya.

Two tourists riding on the back of the elephant were also injured and taken to hospital.

The mahout and owner of the elephant said later the animal had been upset by a tourist pulling its tail, causing it to charge into a crowd of tourists and kill the guide.

More than 2,100 elephants work at tourist sites in Thailand, drawing a large amount of revenue from tourists, despite occasional dramas such as the latest death.

Just a month ago, a famous five-ton elephant called Ekasit, which had starred in films and commercials, killed its owner in Chiang Mai, in the country’s north.

The 32-year-old elephant turned and grabbed Somsak Riengngen, 54, with its trunk and crushed him.

Peta, the group that campaigns for animal rights, said the tragedy showed the potential dangers of keeping elephants confined, and working them for long hours.

Wildlife groups have been calling for an end to elephant shows and tourist sites that use elephants for many years, but the industry is large and influential, given these sites draw in large numbers of tourists – both local and foreign – as well as considerable revenue for operators.

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