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Warning issued after elephant stomps on tour guide

January 4, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

An elephant handler struck his animal on the head several times before it went berserk, attacking a tourist and trampling a tour guide who tried to intervene, witnesses have alleged.

A Chinese consulate in northern Thailand has warned tourists not to ride elephants and to avoid contact with wild animals after the Chinese tour guide was trampled to death, Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post reported.

The tragic incident on Thursday happened at the Sam Liam Thong Kham elephant camp near Pattaya.

The guide killed in the incident worked for a tour agency in Chongqing in southwest China and the elephant park has reportedly offered his family CNY 200,000 (almost AUD 40,000) in compensation, but the sum has been rejected.

AsiaOne news outlet said a Shanghai couple, who had been riding the elephant at the time, told Chinese media they saw the mahout – the animal’s keeper – whack the animal over the head several times just before the attack.

The elephant then started ramming a tree, slammed into a tourist bus and rushed nearby crowds. It knocked someone down and when the tour guide tried to rescue the victim, the elephant grabbed the guide with its trunk and threw him to the ground before stomping on him several times.

Throughout the rampage, the mahout remained on the elephant, whacking its head, a witness said.

The Bangkok Post quoted the mahout saying that a tourist had provoked the 17-year-old male elephant by pulling its tail. The paper reported that the owner of the elephant camp and the animal’s handler were charged on Friday with recklessness causing death and injury.

Elephant riding remains highly controversial, with animal welfare groups working to ban it. Intrepid Travel officially put a stop to elephant riding on its trips four years ago and other operators have done likewise. TripAdvisor has banned ticket sales for any tours involving elephant riding and Thomas Cook stopped promoting elephant rides and shows after over 175,000 people signed a petition.

About 120 global travel tour operators have pledged to stop offering elephant rides since wildlife charity World Animal Protection (WAP) placed riding elephants at the top of its list of cruel tourist activities involving animals.

Meanwhile, the Chinese consulate in Chiang Mai reiterated the importance of having travel insurance. Most tourist attractions in Thailand would cover only a small portion of medical fees in case of accidents, it said, and most travel insurance bought in Thailand does not cover medical fees for major treatment.

Written by Peter Needham

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