Six wild elephants have died after falling into a waterfall, while trying to save each other at the Khao Yai National Park in Thailand, and two others were saved, in an incident on Saturday October 5th, in the north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, officials said, Reuters has reported.
A team of park officials who were pushing elephants back into the forest from Highway 3077 in Prachin Buri, heard loud elephant calls coming from Samor Poon creek near the waterfall at around 3am on Saturday October 5th.
At around 6am, they went to check and found an elephant calf, aged around three years, drowned on the first tier of the waterfall. Two elephants were spotted trying to help the calf, but they looked exhausted.
The officials went down to the area below the waterfall, and found five more elephants drowned, including a three-year old calf, said Khanchit Srinoppawan, chief of the national park.
Srinoppawan stated the waterfall has been closed to the public temporarily following the incident.
More park officials and rescue workers were deployed, and ropes were used to help the two other struggling elephants at the waterfall. They were safely rescued at 2.30pm on Saturday October 5th, the Khao Yai Gaur conservation group said on its Facebook page.
The animals were taken from the cliff near the falls and were given pineapples, bananas and sugarcane with nutrient injections, according to the Thai media.
"It was an accident. We have often seen this happening," National Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa remarked.
There are around 300 wild elephants in the park, which covers more than 2,000 square km (772 square miles) of forest and grassland. It is home to various wild animals, including bears, elephants and gibbons, and is a popular destination for tourists.