Pensioner, 80, camping in forest trampled to death by hungry elephant in Thailand


A pensioner was flung against a tree and trampled to death by a hungry elephant at a campsite in Thailand.

Prayote Jitboon, 80, set up his tent next to his car alongside dozens of other campers in Nakhon Ratchasima province yesterday evening (Jan 14).

The pensioner was sleeping when the jumbo emerged from the forest at 2 am this morning and went straight to the man’s car after smelling a box of grapefruits inside.

However, when the 30-year-old bull was unable to reach the food he began attacking tents.

Terrified campers fled as the elephant picked up Prayote and flung him against a tree. The pensioner was then trampled to death.

Other campers escaped during the commotion and called the park rangers for help.

Khao Yai Park officials arrived at the messy camp together with the police but the jumbo had already fled.

Park chief Adisak Phusitwongsanuyut said the elephant was a bull named ‘Phlai Due’ which had been fitted with a tracking collar as it had previously attacked cars and homes.

Adisak said: ‘The elephant was probably hungry and drawn by the smell of the fruit. It was in heat, therefore aggressive and easily frustrated.

‘Witnesses saw Phlai Due pick up the pensioner and throw him against a tree.’

Wildlife rangers found Prayote’s lifeless body shortly after the rampage ended. They believe he died from the injuries and from losing too much blood.

They also found cash inside the old man’s tent along with his personal belongings.

The man’s family have been contacted by the police so they can collect his belongings and prepare funeral arrangements.

Park chiefs said that the elephant, Phlai Due, was the same animal that emerged on a road and attacked a car in November 2019.

The pensioner was the first person to die in the park this year, but the officials said they will do everything so it would not happen again.

An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild in Thailand and a similar number in captivity.  Male Asian elephants are rarely part of the herds and they roam alone through the deep jungle.

There is a conflict when they come in contact with humans who also use the area of 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).