Officers from Takua Thung Police Station responded to a call about the elephant owner’s death at around 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday in the Tha Yu subdistrict.
Upon their arrival, authorities were informed that Pom Pam, a 20-year-old male elephant, had ripped apart his owner, 32-year-old Supachai Wongfaed.
Rescue workers, officers and the village chief went to the scene of the incident and saw Wongfaed’s body in the middle of a rubber plantation. They reportedly found his corpse split in half in a pool of blood with Pom Pam standing over it.
Phang Nga Provincial Livestock officers were eventually called over to sedate the animal so that the rescue workers could retrieve the body of Wongfaed, the son of Thawon Wongfaed, Khok Charoen subdistrict’s former mayor.
During their preliminary investigation, Takua Thung Police Station officers discovered that Pom Pam was forced to carry wood in the rubber plantation prior to the attack. The officers suggested that the hot weather that day made the elephant “go crazy” and attack his owner.
According to the weather forecast of Phang Nga province for August, daytime temperatures can go as high as 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit on average.
Rescuers reportedly used a dart gun to tranquilize Pom Pam and retrieve Wongfaed’s body, which was later handed over to his relatives for his funeral.
Although the practice of using elephants to carry wood through forested areas was banned by Thailand’s government in 1989, the practice still occurs in some areas around the country.
“[It] is yet another stark reminder that Asian elephants are and always remain wild animals that can attack and kill when they are abused or overly stressed by humans,” Duncan McNair, the CEO of the charity Save The Asian Elephants, told Newsweek. “They suffer deeply, psychologically as well as physically, when broken and forced into constant severe toil in logging and related activities.”
“Save The Asian Elephants has abundant evidence of approaching 2,000 human deaths and catastrophic injuries caused by captive elephants brutalized in unnatural forced activities including tourism,” McNair added.
While Thailand has almost 30 laws placed to protect elephants, they still reportedly suffer abuse at the hands of humans, such as getting pierced by bullhooks – a stick with a metal hook at the end – to control their movement.
Elephants are typically seen as good-natured animals, but they can potentially hurt humans if they feel unsafe or distressed. One elephant made headlines in June for killing a 70-year-old woman and then crashing her funeral to trample on her corpse.