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French tourist bitten after trying to take selfie with crocodile in Khao Yai


A FRENCH TOURIST who was bitten by a crocodile after she tried to take a selfie with the animal in Khao Yai National Park has been transferred to Bangkok for treatment.

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Benetulier Lesuffleur, a 46-year-old tourist from France, suffered minor injuries to her right leg from the attack on Sunday afternoon after she startled the crocodile in Lam Takong Stream when she tried to take a photograph with it. 
She was assisted by park rangers and received first aid at Chaophaya Abhaibhubejhr Hospital in Prachin Buri before being transferred to Bangkok yesterday.
“It was startled and bit her on the leg,” said a park official who asked not to be named. “I guess that she wanted to see it for real.”
The official said two crocodiles had made their home in that section of the park for years, prompting officials to post warning signs.
Vichai Pornleesaengsuwan, director of National Park Division, Protected Area Regional 1, said Lesuffleur and her husband had gone to Bangkok for further treatment because the local hospital did not have a French translator. 
He added that the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department had ordered stricter enforcement of its regulations to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Vichai said the national park already had clear warning signs for tourists in both Thai and English stating “Danger Crocodile. No Swimming”, as Lam Takong Stream was a natural habitat for crocodiles. 
Authorities said crocodiles in the area would be caught to determine if they are native to the region.
“There are two Siamese crocodiles living in the area and since they were found five years ago, the national park has tried to catch them to examine their DNA to confirm if this pair of crocodiles is native. If they are found to be native crocodiles, they can continue to live in the stream, but if not, they will be transferred to a wildlife conservation station,” he said.
“After this accident, the park will consult with the wildlife experts to catch these crocodiles to examine their DNA soon.”
Even though Siamese crocodiles are widely bred in the zoos and crocodile parks, few are found in the wild and they are listed “critically endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list. 
Only the two living in Lam Ta Kong Stream have been found in Khao Yai National Park. Both are about two metres long.
Meanwhile, people on social networks were hotly debating the incident yesterday. One Facebook user named as Mutchimavadee Velaglang said she had visited the crocodiles’ habitat at Khao Yai National Park and many tourists were disturbing the animals and could put their safety at risk.
“I found that many tourists displayed unpleasant behaviour. Some put their legs into the water or used a stick to beat in the water to provoke the crocodiles. 
“Some tourists even hit the crocodiles with a stick for fun. This is very dangerous behaviour, because even though the crocodiles were calm, they could attack tourists at any time because they were disturbed,” Mutchimavadee wrote on Facebook.

Published : January 02, 2017

By : THE NATION,  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE