By The Nation
Officials at that point were not certain whether the elephant, which was part of a five-strong herd they spotted from 200 metres away, was the same one they were looking for, Wildlife Conservation Bureau 2 director Yoo Senatham said on Sunday.
Ang Rua Nai Wildlife Sanctuary head Decha Nilwichien later on Sunday confirmed that the elephant, which was estimated to weigh five tonnes, was the one involved in the accident on Saturday, and a team of veterinarians would soon provide medical attention later on Sunday.
Decha revealed that there was another accident at 3.30pm on Saturday when a Toyota Fortuner crashed into a wild elephant which then fled into the forest. That elephant was suspected to be a part of the same five-strong herd that had the other injured elephant. The front part of the Toyota Fortuner was damaged, while the elephant could walk away from the scene. He said this elusive group had two members involved in two separate collisions with vehicles, but as they had been spotted and they seemed to be able to move around, officials had called off the search. Now, another team would keep tabs on them and provide necessary aid.
The chartered van, on a merit-making trip, on Saturday morning hit a wild elephant on Road No 3076 in Chachoengsao’s Sanam Chaikhet district, resulting in the deaths of van driver Somchai Supsamruay, 54, and the front-seat female passenger Yada Saennamwong, 47. Nine other passengers were also injured from the crash.
The wounded elephant left a trail of blood and a toenail and fled into the forest.
Somchai’s van was one of three vans taking 30 people from Chachoengsao’s Tha Trakiab district for merit making to Roi Et province.
Yoo also said that Chachoengsao Governor Rapee Phongbuppakit had presided over a meeting on Saturday of related officials in a bid to solve the issue of vehicles and wild elephants from Forest Industry Organisation’s forest park in Lard Krathing being involved in accidents. As a short-term solution, the Chachoengsao Highway District Office will install some traffic blocks to force cars passing through the forest section to lower their speed and would add more street lights, he said. Next, they would construct speed bumps on the road.
The 10-20 elephants that currently roamed the 19,000-rai Lard Krathing forest park had actually moved from the Ang Rua Nai Wildlife Sanctuary to stay in the area 2-3 years ago. Officials said they would try to drive them back to the sanctuary because the Lard Krathing forest park was located too close to communities.
Local resident Thongsri Hapol, meanwhile, said the road should not be closed, as people needed to use it. He, however, agreed that vehicles passing through this area should slow down especially during foggy periods as elephants that often walk into the road were of the same colour as greyish fog.