A woman awoke in Thailand to a pretty strange and startling sight in her kitchen! It was something even more bizarre and shocking than a burglar – an elephant had broke in and was looking for food!
Finding Elephant In Her Kitchen
Awakening to strange sounds in your house always feels quite frightening. However, Ratchadawan Puengprasoppon could never have predicted what she found in her kitchen last Saturday morning. She discovered none other than Boonchuay, a male elephant, looking through the drawers! That’s right! When Puengprasoppon walked in, he had used his trunk to opens tons of cabinets, looking for food. Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time an elephant’s from Thailand’s Kaeng Krachan National Park has visited. Last time, an elephant caused $1,500 worth of damage to Puengprasoppon’s home. “They come to visit quite often. They always come when there is the local market because they can smell food,” said Itthipon Thaimonkol, the park’s superintendent.
As fun as it may seem to wake up to an elephant in your home, it points to a much larger problem. Dr. Joshua Plotnik, an assistant professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, studies the issues of farmers and elephants in Thailand. You see, the elephants have also started eating crops. “This is a really difficult issue for both the farmers and the elephants,” he explained. “They are frustrated that this is happening, and really want to find solutions to stop it, but they don’t usually blame the elephants.”
Now, some locals are taking things into their own hands…
Help The Population
Thaimonkol, from the National Park, has stated that local volunteers are now doing their best to protect villagers from the elephants. Mostly, they make a variety of different noises when one approaches, hoping to scare it away. Meanwhile, Thailand remains far from the only place suffering from elephant invasions – China’s had some incidents as well. “These incidences are increasing in Asia, and it is likely due to a decrease in available resources and an increase in human disturbances in the elephants’ habitat,” said Plotnik. Unfortunately, these methods of pushback only work for a short time. “If you don’t fulfil the elephants’ need for food, water and other resources in their natural habitat (or ensure they have them somewhere else), they will find ways around deterrents and access villages or cropfields in search of these resources.”
Even worse, things don’t look like they will get better any time soon. “Although roughly half of the geographic range of elephant habitat in Thailand is considered suitable for long-term elephant conservation, much of this area is threatened by agriculture, roads and other development resulting in fragmentation and increased (human-elephant conflict),” a 2018 study concluded. “Securing corridors to allow elephants to move to additional habitats” and making “efforts to restore natural elephant habitat, proper land use planning, and crop choices that are less attractive to elephants” can help the elephant herds.