Old elephant poisoned for his tusks

A 50-year-old male elephant weighing about 4.9 tonnes who had appeared in a movie about Alexander the Great was killed with poison and its one-metre-long tusks sawn off and stolen in Ayutthaya province early Friday morning.

The elephant was chained to a tree beside the Lop Buri River in Moo 6 village of Ban Koh sub-district,  opposite the Elephant Kraal in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district.

Phan Sala-ngam, its 56-year-old mahout, said he had chained the elephant there on Thursday as it had been in rut in the past week.  He said Khlao was killed early Friday morning. Found near the body were a blade and fastening nuts used with a portable electric saw.

He believed the animal was poisoned.

“I believe the poison is very strong because the elephant fell dead quickly and much waste was released,” Mr Phan said.

Laithongrian Meephan, owner of the Elephant Kraal, said the killers might be local teenagers or drug addicts because they did not saw the tusks off right at their base. He said they did not appear to know that beautiful tusks must include the base to be truly valued.

Ayutthaya governor Witthaya Phiewphong condemned the elephant's murder. He said the elephant, named Khlao, had carried many members of the royal family, taken part in royal processions worshipping objects in ancient Ayutthaya, and appeared in a movie about Alexander the Great, part of which was filmed in Thailand.

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