The bodies of five more wild elephants have been discovered below a steep waterfall in Khao Yai National Park in central Thailand, officials said Tuesday, raising to 11 the number believed to have been swept away over the weekend after a calf slipped and the others tried to save it.
Park officials discovered the additional bodies Monday when they flew a drone over the waterfall, which descends 260 feet and is known as Hell’s Abyss, in a search for two elephants believed to have survived the disaster.
This is the worst such episode for the park’s wild elephants in recent memory. A similar disaster killed eight elephants in 1992.
The director of the national park, Kanchit Srinoppawan, said it appeared that the elephants had been crossing a swollen creek after heavy rain when a 3-year-old slipped and the others tried to rescue it.
“We believe that the elephants were trying to help the baby,” he said. “They are forest animals that live in a group, and when one member is facing problems or needs help, they will come to help.”
He added: “We believe that the death of all these elephants happened at the same time because they wanted to save the little one.”
There were no witnesses to the episode, but park officials have said that the animals’ tracks at the scene and their typical behavior supported the belief that the adults were trying to help the calf and one another.
Elephant trumpeting early Saturday alerted rangers to the disaster and two surviving elephants were spotted.
The park in central Thailand, about 80 miles northeast of Bangkok, is home to about 170 of Thailand’s 3,000 wild elephants.
Print Headline: Elephant deaths up to ll