Elephant Rips Owner in Half After Making Him Work in Heat

An elephant ripped its owner in half after the animal was forced to carry wood in Thailand in a period of extreme heat.

Police arrived at a rubber plantation in the Phang Nga province on Wednesday to find the body of 32-year-old Supachai Wongfaed in a pool of blood, The Thaiger reported.

The 20-year-old elephant called Pom Pam had stabbed the owner with its tusks, the Thai news outlet reported. The elephant had been carrying rubberwood in extremely hot temperatures when it attacked. Police told The Thaiger that they suspect this is what caused it to turn on its owner.

Asian elephants are sometimes used to carry logs and wood through forested areas. These particular animals are known as "logging elephants." The practice was banned in Thailand in 1989, but it still happens in some areas of the country.

Asian Elephant
A stock photo shows an Asian elephant with long tusks. An elephant attacked its owner with its tusks in Thailand, ripping him in half. ricardo_lopez/Getty

The Phang Nga province of Thailand has been seeing temperatures reach 89 degrees Fahrenheit in recent days. Police said that the temperatures may have caused the elephant to "go crazy," especially as it had been hauling wood.

The elephant was still standing over Wongfaed's body when authorities arrived at the scene. Phang Nga Provincial Livestock officers sedated the elephant so that they could investigate the body, The Thaiger reported.

Pom Pam's owner has been identified as the son of the former Khok Charoen subdistrict mayor, Thawon Wongfaed. His body was given to his relatives for the funeral.

"[It] is yet another stark reminder that Asian elephants are and always remain wild animals that can attack and kill when they are abused or overly stressed by humans. They suffer deeply, psychologically as well as physically, when broken and forced into constant severe toil in logging and related activities," Duncan McNair, the CEO of the charity Save The Asian Elephants told Newsweek.

"Save The Asian Elephants has abundant evidence of approaching 2,000 human deaths and catastrophic injuries caused by captive elephants brutalized in unnatural forced activities including tourism."

Save The Asian Elephants is currently working to ban the advertising of overseas venues that exploit elephants for tourism.

In Thailand, elephants are considered both wild and domestic animals. Although there are nearly 30 laws protecting the animals, elephants still suffer in domestic conditions.

Although usually considered gentle creatures, elephants can pose a danger to humans when they feel stressed, provoked or threatened.

Around 60 percent of Thailand's elephants are captive, and around 60 percent of those captive elephants are used for tourism purposes. Other elephants may be used for festival processions, or heavy, manual labor.

Some domestic elephants in Thailand are trained using a bullhook—a stick with a metal hook at the end. Sometimes these are used to control the elephants' movements by applying them to sensitive areas of the body.

It is not the only case of human and wildlife conflict to occur in Thailand recently.

In July there was another case in the Nakhon Sri Thammarat province where an elephant attacked its owner with its tusks, The Thaiger reported.

This elephant had been forced to climb a hill for working purposes. Police suspected the elephant had become stressed, causing it to attack its owner.

Newsweek reached out to the Phang Nga Provincial Livestock office for comment.

Update 8/18/22, 9:11 a.m ET: This article was updated with comments from Save The Asian Elephants CEO Duncan McNair