In a very tragic turn of events, there are five elephants who are believed to have died while attempting to save one of their babies that accidentally slipped and fell over the side of a waterfall.
Located in southern Thailand’s Khao Yai National Park, the waterfall is aptly named Haew Narok or Hell’s Fall.
Officials from Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation explained that experts were called into the scene during Saturday’s early morning hours after a group of elephants were blocking a road beside the waterfall.
Haew Narok waterfall, in Khao Yai national park, has been closed to all as of today (Saturday) after six elephants fell into a deep ravine and drowned.#ThaiPBSWorld #Elephants pic.twitter.com/kiTWSIShyX
— Thai PBS World (@ThaiPBSWorld) October 5, 2019
According to a BBC News report, three hours later, the baby elephant was spotted at the foot of the waterfall and the five dead elephants were nearby.
There were two living elephants also near the edge of the cliff, however, Thai officials attempted to move them.
Haew Narok is comprised of three drops, all totaling more than 150 meters high. Normally, it’s a popular tourist destination, but after the death of the elephants, it has been made off-limits.
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The steep – almost absolute vertical – drop at Haew Narok Waterfalls in Khao Yai National Park in Nakhon Nayok is roaring. The park’s and central Thailand’s largest waterfalls, this is a stunning multi-tiered cascade that requires a serious uptrek. A guided walk is highly recommended. Also, always check the weathers prior to your visit. #AmazingThailand #ReviewThailand #OpenToTheNewShades #InstaTravel #TravelThailand #ThailandTravel #ExploreThailand #WanderlustThailand #ThaiTravel #ThaiTraveling #TravelThai #ThailandTravels #HaewNarok #HaewNarokWaterfall #NakhonNayok #KhaoYai #KhaoYaiNationalPark #ThaiNationalPark #NationalParkThailand #ThaiWaterfall #WaterfallThailand
Chief of the DNP, Thanya Netithamkul, said to the local media that elephants could be heard crying Saturday morning in the creek that leads to the waterfall, as reported by xinhuanews.
Netithamkul explained, “Park officials rushed to the scene to find a baby elephant aged around three years drowned on the top layer of the waterfall. They also noticed two adult elephants, which were frantically trying to advance into the flowing water to save their young, looking extremely exhausted. I have ordered the national park to close the area to tourists, and will find ways to prevent such accidents from happening again in the future.”
Six wild elephants found dead at “Haew Narok Waterfall” in Thailand, at the same place where it happened as well in 1992. pic.twitter.com/naXD9ubttP
— Edwin Wiek (@EdwinWiek) October 5, 2019
Elephants are herd animals who rely on one another for protection and food. As a result of the very tragic occurrence, the founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, Edwin Wiek, stated that any elephants left in the herd will find survival very difficult.
Not only that, but the tragedy has also taken its emotional toll on the elephants as they’ve been displaying signs of grief.
Wiek spoke to the BBC and said, “It’s like losing half your family. There’s nothing you can do, it’s nature unfortunately.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first time something tragic like this has occurred. Back in 1992, a herd of eight elephants were killed after they fell down the cliff.
Khao Yai National Park is the third-largest national park in Thailand. It’s renowned for its wild animals who freely roam the land.
What remains unclear is whether or not the waterfall will be reopened to visitors.
In the meantime, we wish the surviving elephants of the herd all the condolences and good vibes. Family loss is family loss no matter what species.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.