Thailand: A young elephant falls into a sewer and is electrocuted

Illustration: Elephants arrive in Bangkok, Thailand on November 8, 2016. – GUILLAUME PAYEN / SIPA

An elephant that was run by two men to get money in Thailand after stumbling into an open sewer, while he came across a restaurant's electric board, was learned this Saturday from the police.

The elephant, a ten-year-old man named Plai Nam Choke ("Lucky"), was shown to passersby who could pay for food in the Samut Prakhan province south of Bangkok. "I got a phone call at 8:30 pm and said that the elephant was stuck in the sewer, he is clearly dead of electrocution," said a policeman, Nopporn Saengsawang. Rescuers from a local self-help group tried to revive him three hours after his fall, with no result.

The two men loaded up

The two men were accused of animal cruelty and illegal displacement of the elephant, said Nopporn Saengsawang. The young pinnipeds came from the province of Surin, in the northeast of the country, where a famous annual fair with elephant parade takes place.

Wild elephants can still be seen in the forests of Thailand, but their number has declined to around 2,700 compared to more than 100,000 in 1850. Many of them are domesticated to distract tourists, leading to accusations of animal cruelty.

Mahouts are generally not allowed to roam around in cities, but often run the risk of being condemned to earn a living. Research has shown that wild elephants kept for life in captivity are stressed and their lives have a tendency to deteriorate.