A wild elephant shot in the leg after supposedly killing two rubber tappers in Rayong died after being heavily sedated.
A Pattaya veterinarian and experts from Nong Nooch Tropical Garden had cared for the elephant most of last month. This week the animal was pronounced recovered and authorities began the effort to return it to a forest in Khao Ang Lua Nai, Pha Yum subdistrict.
Veterinarians had trouble sedating the jumbo and, after two shots failed to work, they drugged the animal two more times until it passed out. The elephant was then loaded on a truck and taken to the Rayong forest.
Recent rainfall, however, had washed out what little road there was to the palm forest and the truck was unable to pass. So they put a GPS tracker on the animal and let the elephant out with the idea of directing into the trees.
The elephant didn’t move. Still drugged, it laid on the road overnight with doctors keeping watch. By morning, they administered saline to revive the pachyderm, but it took six hours for it to stand and then only just staggered around.
Nearby residents brought food and more water. Its listless behavior lasted three days and, on Nov. 6, it waded into a pond and stayed there.
Fearing the animal would drown, officials drained water from the pond, but it still didn’t move. Finally, the elephant died.
Authorities used a backhoe to lift the carcass out of the pond and load it onto a 10-wheeled truck before taking it to the Ban Seeraman Forestry Unit in Khao Chamao for an autopsy to confirm the cause of death.
Locals believed the short-tusked pachyderm was the same elephant that killed two rubber tappers in September.
Veterinarian Natanon Panpetch of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said she believes the elephant became septic and died from an infection, not from malpractice by doctors. It also could have died from heavy metal poisoning from the buckshot initially found in the leg wound.
However, wildlife officials and vets staged an “apology ceremony” and laid flower garlands and sprinkled holy water on the dead elephant before it was carted away.