Villagers & Forest Rangers Rescue Baby Elephant in Thailand

 Himanshi Shah's avatar

Himanshi Shah

Himanshi lives in a Cyberpunk universe inside her head. When she's outside it, she wanders around the streets of the world, in search of the next furry animal to cuddle. When not designing or writing, she's out and about taking photographs of abandoned places and interesting faces.

Video Credits: Chiangrai Times

Nowadays, every time we switch on the news, we are bombarded by news of tragedy and disruption. But then, every once in a while, a wholesome story like this one comes along, and reignites our belief in the goodness of humanity.

Last month, in the late hours of a Friday night, a baby elephant fell into a well in the Kaeng Hang Maeo district of Chanthaburi province. Thanks to the efforts made by the villagers and Forest Rangers of the eastern Thai village, the one-year-old calf was successfully rescued.

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Photo Credits: Chiangrai Times

The young elephant stumbled into a well of a rubber plantation, while wandering in the area with his mother and 40 other elephants. The villagers—awoken by the commotion—went to the plantation to investigate the cause of the noise. The people who got there first, noticed that the calf’s mother was trying to help her baby. The mother elephant’s efforts were put to a stop when she touched an electric fence and temporarily collapsed from the shock. Villagers that witnessed this incident, instantly rushed to switch off the fence’s electric supply to prevent the elephant from dying of an electric shock.

After which, they joined the rest of the villagers and put in all their focus into rescuing the baby elephant. The villagers also alerted the Forest Rangers, who quickly reached the area. The Rangers tried to calm the agitated mother and kept her away from the well, while the rescue mission was in progress.

With the help of a backhoe, the villagers dug out one side of the well to allow the elephant to be safely pulled out of the hole. All the while, the baby elephant kept struggling to keep its head above water.

While this was happening, the herd of elephants stood nearby and anxiously waited for the baby elephant to be rescued.

The backhoe dug for half an hour until a good enough slope was created. With some help from the people, the calf was then able to walk out of the muddy well. The young elephant was then reunited with its mother and the rest of the herd. The whole ordeal took about 3 hours of efforts from the kind locals and the Forest Rangers.

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Photo Credits: Chiangrai Times

This story is heartwarming without a doubt. But, it’s important to find the root cause of such mishaps, only then can they be prevented from happening again in the future.

How did this happen?

In the incident above, it seems like the heard stumbled into the rubber plantation in search of food. But besides this, there are other causes of the human-elephant conflict in Thailand.

Like all wild animals, elephants are also affected by deforestation. It forces them to live in close proximity to humans. This naturally gives rise, to conflict between the species.

Thailand has a population of about 70 million people. More than half of these people live in the rural areas of the country. To protect their property and farms, the owners put up electric fences to keep the animals away. Some even resort to setting off firecrackers to scare the elephants. Both these methods cause injury and sometimes even lead to the death of the poor animals.

Beehive Fences - A humane alternative?

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Beehive fences have become a popular and more humane alternative, to electric fence. They work so well, primarily because despite being the largest land animals, elephants are afraid of bees! Beehive fences are fences that are built while keeping this fear in mind. They have proved to be incredibly helpful in keeping the elephants away, without causing them any real harm.

Boxes containing thousands of bees are placed at short distances from one another, at chest height. When an elephant tries to enter the farm through this fence, the box shakes. The buzzing of the bee is enough to scare off the elephants, but sometimes, if a persistent elephant continues to push through, the bees will sting the animal.

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Since elephants have thick skin, this sting doesn’t pierce their skin, but it does make them feel uneasy around their eyes, ears and trunk. This discomfort is enough to ensure that the elephant is much less likely to return to the place that caused the uneasiness.

Elephants and Bees Project is a strong promoter of the beehive fence, and is making a powerful impact in areas that have human-elephant conflict, all around the world.

Elephants are of immense cultural significance to the people of Thailand. The Thai elephant is in fact, the country’s national animal.

At present, there are less than 5000 elephants in Thailand. This is a dramatic fall from the original number of 100,000 elephants that wandered in the country during the 80’s.

When the population of the elephants began to rapidly decline, several rescue organizations worked tirelessly to maintain and increase the number. One such organization is the Elephant Nature Park.

Elephant Nature Park

The sanctuary/rescue center is located in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand. It not only houses elephants, but also several other animals. In addition to this, they also focus on the protection of endangered species, rainforest restoration and visitor education.

Check out Elephant Nature Park page on Animal Rescue Guide.

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Elephant Nature Park also accepts volunteers who are willing to learn more about elephant welfare. If you don’t have the time to volunteer and are only looking to spend a day or two at the park, that’s possible too! Get in touch with the organization here to find out more.


Do you know any other reputable organizations who are doing inspiring work? Let us know, and we may feature them in our monthly spotlight!

Find animal rescue groups in Thailand