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Elephant kills ranger, deaths from elephant attacks now 21 this year

Written by World News

File photo : Wallop Burapha

A forest ranger was killed by a wild elephant in Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Sanam Chai Khet district of Chachoengsao on Wednesday, bring deaths in elephant attacks this year to 21. Six other people were also injured, according to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.

The latest victim has been identified as Wallop Burapha, 36. He was a member of the department’s rapid response mobile unit, tasked with returning stray wild elephants to their habitats.

According to the department, there are currently more than 4,000 wild elephants in forests across the country and the population is increasing at a rate of about 8% annually.
With the increasing population and the decrease in their habitats, due to human encroachment, there are more elephants venturing out of their habitats in search of food on farm land, resulting in confrontations with humans.

In the first two months of this year, 13 people died in elephant attacks, several of them in Ban Na Noi in Chachoengsao province. The elephants have also been blamed for causing extensive damage to mango, durian, banana and jack fruit orchards.

Wild elephants are scattered across national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and no-hunting zones throughout the country. Last year alone, 5,217 elephants ventured out of their habitats. More than 150,000 households in 30 provinces, mostly in Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Kanchanaburi, Prachin Buri and Trat, have been adversely affected by elephants.

One of the preventive measures being considered by the department is the deployment of thermal sensor equipped drones, to keep track of the elephants.

The department plans to request about a billion baht from the government in the next fiscal year to solve the problem of elephants venturing out of their habitats, by increasing water and food sources in their habitats, building barriers around communities bordering forests, increasing manpower, purchasing the drones and compensating for damage caused to humans by the pachyderms’ activities.

The department plans to buy 198 drones, each estimated to cost 250,000 baht, one for each of the 198 rapid response mobile units.

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