Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thailand: US Woman Trampled to Death by Elephants in Kaeng Krachan

According to The Associated Press, park rangers at Kaeng Krachan National Park just outside of Bangkok said that a US tourist went missing on January 13, and was found trampled to death by elephants on Thursday (January 23).
The unidentified woman, alone and in her 20s, was found earlier today, according to police Col. Woradet Suanklaai.
COMMENT: The woman was found in the woods after a 70-person search team was deployed. The severity of her injuries indicated she was likely trampled to death.
“Her arms, her wrists and other parts of her body were broken, so we assumed she was trampled by elephants because no humans could have caused such powerful damage to the body,” Col. Woradet said. Police have sent the woman's body to a forensic institute in Bangkok to determine her cause of death.
Kaeng Krachan is the largest national park in Thailand, covering nearly 3,000 square meters (32,300 square feet) of forest. It is 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of Bangkok.
“Looking at the images in her camera, we see a lot of animals, birds, snakes, lizards,” Woradet said. “We assumed she wanted to take pictures of elephants because that’s what the Kaeng Krachan National Park is famous for."
Having lived in Thailand for a number of years, my suggestions for all foreign visitors to game parks in Thailand is to do the following:
1. Ask your embassy or consulate for the names of several reputable tour operators in order to set up a safe visit to a game park;
2. Never visit a game park by yourself. There is always safety in numbers if you are on an organized tour;
3. One of the reason I discourage solo trips to any game park is because photographers do not have a second set of eye to look for potentially dangerous situations, which is why organized tours are a "must";
4. Keep in mind that all animals in game parks are "wild" animals. They are NOT docile; they are dangerous; and
5. When you infringe on where "wild" animals live, you must respect their being in their own habitat where humans are often viewed as an endangered species.
The tragic and unnecessary death of the American woman is a direct result of NOT keeping one's safety focused at all times.
A final thought: Arranging for international medical treatment and evacuation coverage (including the need for the expatriation of one's remains back home), should be ever-present in pre-departure planning.
Unfortunately, young adults who travel abroad often believe they will live forever, which sadly, is simply not true.