Two elephants (one behind the other) trapped on a small cliff at a waterfall at Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand.
Two elephants (one behind the other) trapped on a small cliff at a waterfall at Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand.
pic: afp

Bangkok: Five more wild elephants were found dead near the site where six tuskers plunged to their death trying to save each other from a waterfall at a national park in Thailand, an official said on Tuesday.

These additional corpses were located near the Haew Narok ("Hell's Fall") waterfall at Khao Yai National Park, about 2 km away from the spot where the initial six had been found on October 6, Witthaya Hongwiangchan, the director of protected areas for the regional office 1 of Prachinburi province, told Efe news.

"We think they're from the same herd," Witthaya added. The official said a drone, which was launched on Monday, managed to capture the images of the five dead elephants.

"We weren't able to send out a drone earlier because of the bad weather conditions," he explained. The heart-wrenching images of the six elephant corpses that were found at the base of Haew Narok on Saturday moved people around the world.

A baby elephant had slipped over the waterfall and several members of the herd tragically followed the calf in a failed bid to rescue it. Two surviving elephants, one of them believed to be the calf's mother, were found floundering on a rock.

"The other two elephants are doing well," Witthaya told Efe. "Some villagers confirmed that they saw them yesterday and were able to capture a few pictures of them." Haew Narok is the tallest waterfall in Khao Yai, dropping over 500 feet into the basal lake below in three vertiginous drops.

According to wildlife conservation groups, there are an estimated 3,000-4,000 elephants remaining in the Southeast Asian nation, but only about 1,000-1,500 of them roam in the wild, mostly in protected parks such as Khao Yai, which has an estimated wild elephant population of some 300.

Once ubiquitous and the country's enduring national symbol, the destruction of its natural habitat through illegal logging and agriculture has made the Thai elephant's numbers nosedive until becoming an endangered species.

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