Search continues for injured wild elephant

The search for an injured elephant entered the third day on Saturday (Feb 24) with search teams increasing to four.

One team found footprints believed to belong to the injured elephant in the roadside bushes, around two kilometres from the spot where the pachyderm was hit by a pick up truck on the 3259 road on Feb 22.

The wild elephant was believed to sustain injuries to its hind legs as it was seen dragging the hind legs into the bushes after the accident.

Chief of Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary Decha Nilvichien said the search operation resumed at 10am today when four teams of forest rangers and veterinarians comb the area near the footprints were found.

Meanwhile, Tha Takiab police superintendent Pol Col Kasiphon Sirichan said the police had yet to press charges against the pick up truck driver, Chamras Promchan, pending more interrogation of witnesses.

Pol Col Kasiphon said before the truck hit the elephant, a passenger sitting beside the driver shouted for him when he saw three elephants running on the road.

This might indicate that the driver drove over the speed limit of 60 kilometre per hour in wildlife sanctuary, he said, adding that the driver could face reckless driving.

For short-term solution to the problem of wild animals killed by vehicles on the 3259 road which run through the eastern forest complex, Mr Decha said he would seek approval from chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation (DNP) to clear the thick undergrowth along the 17-kilometre section of the 3259 road in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary.

This would create better visibility for motorists in case of sudden and close encounter with wild animals coming out of the jungles, he said.

The 100-km 3259 road was built by the military in 1989. It was cut into the eastern forest complex covering five eastern provinces�Chachoengsao, Sa Kaeo, Chanthaburi, Rayong, and Chon Buri�with a 17-km stretch located in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary.

The eastern forest complex is home to 424 wild elephants, 277 of which are in Khao Ang Rue Nai wildlife sanctuary.

According to the DNP’s 1998-1999 record, more than 3,000 wild animals had been killed in road accidents on one year. Since the 3259 road was in use, authorities estimated that at least 10,000 animals were killed in road accidents.

There were also reports of three motorists killed and three injured in separate incident of wild elephant attacks on the this road.

The department had repeatedly proposed the previous governments to shut down the road, but the proposals were rejected by the Ministry of Interior with a reason that the road was an important transportation route for local people.

However, concerned authorities agreed to close the road at certain hours, such as during the night.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (ThaiPBS)

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