BANGKOK – Ratchadawan Puengprasopporn said her family was asleep when she heard noises coming from the kitchen.
When she and her husband went to investigate, they saw the elephant poking its head into her kitchen, rummaging through the shelves and eating a plastic bag containing food.
This isn’t the first intrusion she’s had from Boonmee, a wild male elephant in his forties known among residents and park officials as a frequent visitor to the village.
Local authorities and national parks officials visited Ratchadawan and her family the next day and advised her to remove food, especially anything salty.
Pattarapol Maneeon, a veterinarian from the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, explained that it is possible that there are not enough salty foods in the wild during the rainy season, forcing the elephants to look for salt in local villages.
There are an estimated 3,000 wild elephants in Thailand, according to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre. As human push closer to the forests for land and agriculture, elephants have been forced to venture out of their shrinking habitats in search of food.
The human-elephant conflicts sometimes turned deadly and undermine the effort to conserve species. But in this case, the dispute was peacefully solved.
Boonmee will get his artificial salt licks in the forest while authorities have promised to repair Ratchadawan’s house.