By Tanatip Chaiyos, Manit Sanubboon
In just 10 days, a wild bull elephant has damaged four vehicles and caused alarm among tourists at Khao Yai National Park. Fortunately, no one has been harmed in the two shocking encounters with the big pachyderm.
On Saturday, just as a family arrived at the park to celebrate National Children's Day, the elephant put two feet on their car's hood. The hood was badly dented and the windshield fractured.
"The incident happened around 4.30pm," Khao Yai National Park chief Kanchit Srinoppawan said yesterday.
On January 1, the elephant damaged three vehicles. It stomped on a pickup causing a big dent, while another pickup and a taxi sustained minor damage.
Patarapol Maneeorn, a government veterinarian who has monitored elephants and other wild animals at the park, said elephants normally did not attack vehicles but this one might be stressed.
"It's in heat," Patarapol said.
He said when bull elephants reach reproductive age, they are forced out of their herd to prevent mating with blood relatives.
This particular male was thus roaming the forest alone.
"In the mating season, the elephant might have developed some stress. Moving vehicles might have added to the tension," he said.
Patarapol said elephants at the park searched for food from 4pm to dawn.
"When driving in the park, make sure your car is at least four metres away from the vehicle in front. This way, every vehicle can reverse when they face something unprecedented and need to escape.
"But if you are in other parks, follow guidelines provided by officials there. Wild elephants in different zones react differently."
Last month, an elephant fatally attacked Poonsap Noknuam, 65, while she was heading home with her husband on a motorcycle on Hua Hin-Pa La Ou Rd in Prachuap Khiri Khan.
A passer-by chased the elephant away by honking a horn, but Poonsap died on her way to a hospital.
Locals believe wild elephants can become aggressive because teenagers on bikes challenge or tease them with loud honks.