In less than half a month, at least three elephants have attacked cars in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand, alarming tourists and local officials.
One recent incident was captured on video when a park visitor encountered an elephant, kicking the front of a car and trampling a torn-off bumper.
There have been four reported confrontations between elephants and humans in the park since Jan 1. Three involved elephants attacking tourists’ cars. An elephant also attacked a restaurant and shop in Khao Yai this month. No injuries were reported in any of these incidents.
Asian elephants are almost always docile, but experts believe the aggressive behavior may be the result of the musth, when bull elephants’ testosterone surges during mating season. Park officials advised tourists against further aggravating the elephants with car horns, bright headlights, or flash photography. They believe at least one attack occurred after a motorist honked his horn at an elephant.
Elephant population has skyrocketed within the park, more than doubling since the past decade. As vehicle traffic has also increased, some have suggested avoiding the pachyderms entirely by rerouting the road through the park, or even moving the elephants into other wildlife sanctuaries. Officials are also contemplating the use of birth control on the park’s resident elephants.
Officials fear attacks will continue as drought conditions and food shortages in the wild cause elephants to venture into populated areas, and as humans encroach on elephant habitat.
To lessen the potential for explosive conflicts, park officials have formed special task forces to chase elephants away from human territory and are advising locals on how to handle confrontations with elephants.