Five elephants are thought to have tragically died while trying to save one of their babies which had slipped over the edge of a waterfall.
The waterfall, located in southern Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park, is known locally as Haew Narok (Hell’s Fall).
Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) explained officials were called to the scene in the early hours of Saturday morning when a group of elephants were found blocking a road by the waterfall.
Haew Narok waterfall, in Khao Yai national park, has been closed to all as of today (Saturday) after six elephants fell into a deep ravine and drowned.#ThaiPBSWorld #Elephants pic.twitter.com/kiTWSIShyX
— Thai PBS World (@ThaiPBSWorld) October 5, 2019
Around three hours later, the baby elephant was spotted at the foot of the waterfall while the five other dead animals were seen nearby, BBC News report.
Two living elephants were reportedly also seen on a near cliff edge, though Thai authorities are attempting to move them.
Haew Narok is made up of three drops totalling over 150m in height. It is a popular tourist attraction but following the elephants’ death today it has been made off-limits.
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The steep – almost absolute vertical – drop at Haew Narok Waterfalls in Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Nayok is roaring. The park’s and central Thailand’s largest waterfalls, this is a stunning multi-tiered cascade that requires a serious uptrek. A guided walk is highly recommended. Also, always check the weathers prior to your visit. #AmazingThailand #ReviewThailand #OpenToTheNewShades #InstaTravel #TravelThailand #ThailandTravel #ExploreThailand #WanderlustThailand #ThaiTravel #ThaiTraveling #TravelThai #ThailandTravels #HaewNarok #HaewNarokWaterfall #NakhonNayok #KhaoYai #KhaoYaiNationalPark #ThaiNationalPark #NationalParkThailand #ThaiWaterfall #WaterfallThailand
Thanya Netithamkul, chief of the DNP, told local media park rangers heard elephants crying in the creek leading to the waterfall on Saturday morning, xinhuanews reports.
Park officials rushed to the scene to find a baby elephant aged around three years drowned on the top layer of the waterfall. They also noticed two adult elephants, which were frantically trying to advance into the flowing water to save their young, looking extremely exhausted.
I have ordered the national park to close the area to tourists, and will find ways to prevent such accidents from happening again in the future.
Six wild elephants found dead at "Haew Narok Waterfall" in Thailand, at the same place where it happened as well in 1992. pic.twitter.com/naXD9ubttP
— Edwin Wiek (@EdwinWiek) October 5, 2019
Elephants rely on each other for protection and finding food, and as a result of the saddening incident Edwin Wiek, the founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, said any elephants left in the herd would have difficulty surviving.
The incident could also take an emotional toll on the animals as they have been known to display signs of grief.
Speaking to the BBC, he said:
It’s like losing half your family.
There’s nothing you can do, it’s nature unfortunately.
The incident isn’t the first of its kind to take place at Haew Narok. In 1992, a herd of eight elephants all died after falling down the cliff.
Khao Yai National Park, where the waterfall is located, is Thailand’s third largest national park. It is well known for the wild animals roaming freely in the area.
It is unclear when, or if, the waterfall will reopen to visitors.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.