A Scottish tourist has been gored to death by an elephant that he and his 16-year-old stepdaughter were riding on the resort island of Samui, Thai authorities said Tuesday.
Police Lt. Rotjanart Kiewjan said the animal threw Gareth Crowe and Eilidh Hughes to the ground during a trek on Monday. The elephant then gored Crowe with his tusk and stomped on him.
Thai news reports said the elephant became enraged after its trainer, known as a mahout, climbed off to take a picture of the tourists. Police think hot weather may have disturbed the 13-year-old elephant.
The mahout, who is from Myanmar, was also gored and Hughes was injured from her fall. Both were hospitalized.
There was speculation that the elephant might have been in a state of musth, when it becomes more aggressive during its mating cycle, but Cherdchai Jaroenwech of the Office of Livestock Development said that was not the case.
Cherdchai, who shot the elephant with a tranquilizer dart Monday evening, said it had been taken back to the corral of its trekking company owners, Island Safari, where it was attended to by its usual caretakers and showered constantly to cool off while remaining chained.
He said the elephant, dubbed Rambo but also called by the nickname Golf, will take a 15-day break from work and then be moved to another branch of the trekking company in either Krabi or Phang Nga.
Elephants are Thailand's de facto national animal and were once featured on the country's flag. Their numbers have declined in recent decades as expanding human settlements have reduced their natural habitats. Thailand now has fewer than 3,000 wild elephants and about 4,000 domesticated elephants, according to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.
The beasts once were used for logging, but deforestation and a subsequent ban on most logging has led to many elephants now being used as tourist attractions.