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Hungry Thai elephants raid villages, hijack trucks

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Hungry Thai elephants raid villages, hijack sugarcane trucks

December 9, 2003

Hungry elephants have gone on the rampage in eastern Thailand, ransacking villagers' plantations and forcing sugarcane trucks to stop so they can raid their goods, a report said yesterday.

Dry-season shortages have forced the 130 elephants from Ang Lue Nai wildlife sanctuary, which sprawls over five provinces, to seek food and water in nearby settlements, the sanctuary's chief Yoo Senatham told the Bangkok Post.

Yoo said the elephants had learned to pick up sugarcane dropped by drivers who took pity on them, but that the practice had taught them dangerous new habits.

He told the daily of incidents where the leader of the herd had stood in the road to block the vehicle while the others unloaded the produce with their trunks.

Faced with the shortage of natural fodder in the jungle, the animals were now "just waiting for food to be dropped, rather than looking for food. This is dangerous," he said.

Truck drivers are now banned from dropping food in the hope the elephants will stop their aggressive behaviour.

Yoo said villagers would build an electric fence to protect their crops and set up a mechanism so they could mobilise quickly to disperse the animals when they came on a raid.

AFP

Copyright © 2003. The Sydney Morning Herald.

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