Heartbreaking moment elephant is found with 43 bullet wounds before dying a month later

This is the heartbreaking moment an elephant found with 43 gunshot wounds across the body – fighting to stay alive before dying a month later.

The 20-year-old jumbo, named Plykhanoon, was found in woodland on the outskirts of a village in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand, on December 10.

He had been shot twice under the eyes, three times on the front leg, twice on the ribs, and 38 more across its face, armpits, and body.

Despite being critically-injured, the elephant was frightened and resisted rescuers so it had to be sedated before being taken to the national park’s facility in Kui Buri District.

Some of the bullet shell casings were left inside the three-tonne elephant’s body as it could have killed the animal to extract them all at once.

The traumatised jumbo had not calmed down until the next day as a park ranger died after being shoved by its trunk while trying to treat the three-tonne elephant.

One of the park rangers, Pichai Watcharapongpaiboon, said his colleague was a hero.

He said: ‘The elephant had violent tendencies so we understand it was only trying to protect itself when it accidentally killed the ranger.’

Almost a month later, the elephant had been fighting to recover but he succumbed to its severe injuries and died on Monday (Jan 11).

Suporn Polpan, the head of Kui Buri National Park said they did everything they could to save the jumbo.

He said: ‘Plykhanoon’s right leg was swelling so veterinarians transferred the elephant’s body to a hospital at Kui Buri National Park and give the elephant CPR, but he sadly died.’

Officers are still investigating who shot the elephant but they believe that it had an encounter with several armed men who opened fire at the same time.

The elephant was buried in the national park grounds while investigations are ongoing.

The elephant is the national animal of Thailand. An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild in Thailand and a similar number in captivity.

There is conflict when they come in contact with humans who also use the area for farming and gathering food.

Elephants are a protected animal in Thailand and killing them carries a maximum prison term of up to three years and a fine of 1,000 baht (25GBP).

Wildlife rangers are now working with police to find those responsible for the death.