Anger over stolen crops, not ivory riches, was the probable motive for killing two elephants, officials say after the arrest of two suspects.
When wild elephants are killed in a national forest, the first suspicion is usually that the killers were after the animal's valuable ivory tusks.
But that is not always the motive behind a killing. Elephants are big eaters and the crops on farmlands neighbouring the forest can be very tempting to the animals.
It now appears likely that intrusions into farmland was the reason behind the killing of two elephants – one in March and another in April – in Kaeng Krachan National Park in Petchaburi province.
Police arrested two men yesterday suspected of killing the two elephants. Sanya Tuansap, 37, and his brother, Veerapong, 25, were caught in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
They face charges of killing the elephants inside the borders of the park in Kaeng Krachan district of Phetchaburi, police said.
Witness accounts and ballistic forensics led police to the men, who are accused of shooting and killing the elephants with rifles. The elephant found dead in April was pregnant.
Phetchaburi governor Monthien Thongnit said police found no connection between the suspected killers and the ivory trade. The evidence suggests the men shot the elephants for intruding on their farmland.
However, Mr Monthien said police would delve deeper into the case.
The brothers denied the charges. But Mr Monthien said the authorities have solid evidence to take legal action against the two. Photos.