Clever wild elephant stops vehicles like a checkpoint officer to steal food

A clever wild elephant stopped vehicles ‘like a checkpoint officer’ to steal food.

The jumbo blocked one lane of a forest road in Chachoengsao province, Thailand, while awaiting oncoming motorists on January 21.

It then inspected the vehicles like a checkpoint officer – mostly delivery trucks carrying newly harvested sugarcane – before stealing some of their cargo.

Footage shows the elephant blocking the road and approaching a truck to take some sugarcane stalks before allowing the driver to pass through.

Driver Jutamas Mattokamonkul said: ‘We can’t even avoid the elephant, he was like a checkpoint officer. We have to stop the truck and let it take the sugarcane or else it won’t let us go.’

Thailand has an estimated 2,000 Asian elephants living in the wild but there is often conflict when they come into contact with humans on roads and in villages. A similar number of elephants are kept captive where they work in zoos and are hired out for religious festivals and weddings.

Experts even believe they have evolved to prefer food from humans over the jungle food.

Staff from the country’s National Park – the sprawling area of protected woodland where wild elephants live – believe the animals have changed their behaviour in response to the food readily available from humans.

Plucking food from homes and cars is easier for them and they are often attracted by the smell and sight, conservation officer Supanya Chengsutha said.