After a Black Toyota stopped near the km. 30 mark of Thanarat Road in Pak Chong district in Khao Yai National Park around 4pm Tuesday, Deu sidled up to it, rubbed against it, before sitting fully on the car. The panicked drivers only drove away after their car was heavily damaged.
“He usually likes to come to greet tourists anyway, but he never hurt anyone or any vehicles,” park director Kanchit Sarinpawan said Wednesday. “There were many factors that contributed to this, as we can see in the clip. We can see the drivers were able to drive out, but they may have been too panicked to do so.”
Both drivers, reportedly teenaged men, were uninjured. But the 35-year-old male elephant Deu had dented the roof and broke the rear and side windows.
Elephants will come out of the wild a lot in these couple months since they are looking for food after the rainy season, with their usual flora food in the forest drying up. Deu roams around the km. 28 to 32 mark on Thanarat Road.
The following are the 10 rules that tourists driving through the park should follow when encountering a wild elephant:
- Stay at least 30 meters away in your car and slowly back up to keep your distance if the elephant approaches.
- No flash photography.
- Do not honk the car’s horn or make other loud noises.
- Do not turn off the engine and be ready to drive away at any time.
- Do not get out of the vehicle to take photos.
- Turn off your headlights if encountering elephants at night. Do not flash headlights or other lights at them.
- If surrounded by elephants circling your car, move towards a spot in the circle with no elephants.
- If the car in front of you backs up, please back up as well, as it might be an emergency situation.
- Do not get out of the car and approach the elephant.
- An elephant’s best senses are hearing, smell, and vision. If you turn off your engine, the elephant will approach and use these senses to investigate, by looking at, smelling, and listening to your car.
Visitors to national parks have been known to bother and heckle wild elephants before. In a video that went viral in April 2017, park officials reported visitors to the police that honked and cursed at an approaching wild elephant.