Elephant crashes into woman’s house in search of food as natural habitats shrink |
A woman in Thailand found an unexpected visitor to her home in the middle of the night last weekend: a wild Asian elephant.
“We were sleeping and woke up to a noise inside our kitchen,” said Ratchadawan Puengprasoppon, a resident of Hua Hin district, in western Prachuap Khiri Khan province. “So we rushed downstairs and saw this elephant pointing its head in our kitchen where the wall was broken.”
Her wall had already been perforated since an elephant crashed into her house last month, she said. The damage had yet to be repaired when the elephant showed up on Saturday and poked its head through the hole.
Videos taken by Ratchadawan show the elephant extending its trunk to rummage through cupboards and drawers, overturning dishes. At one point, he picked up what appears to be a plastic bag using his trunk and placed it in his mouth.
“I’ve seen elephants roam our town looking for food since I was young,” Ratchadawan said. “But this is the first time they’ve damaged my house.”
She added that there was no food in her kitchen on Saturday when the elephant entered – but it may have tried to steal the salt stored inside.
The elephant entered the kitchen because it smelled of food, the Department of National Parks, Fauna and Flora said in a Facebook post on Sunday. “Elephants are herbivores, so they need minerals from salty foods, which are essential for their bodies. They would try to find minerals, and we have educated local residents,” the department said.
Ratchadawan’s house may also have been targeted because it is located next to the entrance to a national park where elephants live, said Prateep Puywongtarn, a staff member of the Huay Sub-District Administrative Organization. Sat Yai in Hua Hin.
Similar incidents often occur in the region due to its proximity to the national park and elephant habitat, he added. Elephant sightings and incidents usually increase during the fruit harvest season – in recent years an elephant has destroyed a house where a resident kept fruit, he said.
Elephant-human conflicts have increased in recent decades, not just in Thailand, but in places like India and all of Asia where animals live. As human settlements and infrastructure develop, wildlife habitats shrink and fracture, leaving animals with less land, smaller packs, and fewer resources, forcing them to roam in search of food.
“Although about half of the geographic range of elephant habitat in Thailand is considered suitable for long-term elephant conservation, much of this area is threatened by agriculture, roads and other developments leading to fragmentation and increase (human-elephant conflict), “said a 2018 study of elephants in western Thailand, published in the journal PLOS One.
Of 41 fruit and farm owners surveyed for the study, almost all said elephants plundered their crops at least once a month – and more than half said it was a daily occurrence. They also reported other types of property damage, such as ruptured water pipes and water tanks.
“No single mitigation method can address the multifaceted causes of the problem, which stems from the increased development of the original elephant habitat,” the study said. Long-term solutions must include “efforts to restore the elephants’ natural habitat, appropriate land use planning and crop choices less attractive to elephants”, as well as “securing corridors to enable elephants. elephants to move to other habitats “.
Environmentalists have also recommended similar measures in India, which is home to the world’s largest population of endangered Asian elephants. For years, conflicts between humans and elephants have increased – elephants kill around 500 people in India each year. This is a direct reflection of the decrease in their habitat, leading them to more contact with humans, according to conservationists.
In China, the issue was brought to the fore last month, with the nation captivated by a herd of 15 elephants that are currently crossing the country’s southwest. The elephants, which millions of people watch live, have traveled more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) since escaping from a nature reserve last year.
While it’s not clear why they left, biologists see the situation as a warning of what happens when elephant habitats are degraded.
“The traditional buffer zones between humans and elephants are gradually disappearing, and the chances of elephants encountering humans naturally increase dramatically,” said Zhang Li, wildlife biologist and professor at Peking Normal University, according to the tabloid. of State Global Times.