A 36-year old Scottish tourist has tragically died after being thrown from an elephant during a trekking expedition on Koh Samui.
Gareth Crowe, along with his partner’s 16-year old daughter, was riding an elephant on the Thai island when the animal grew angry at the accompanying mahout, stabbing and seriously injuring him with his tusk before throwing off Crowe and 16-year old Eilidh, reports The Guardian.
Crowe was killed instantly after being thrown, stamped and stabbed by the elephant, who has been identified as 13-year old Golf.
Eilidh is recovering in Samui’s Bangkok International Hospital with her mother at her bedside.
Crowe’s partner, Catherine Hughes, has commented, “We were all here on holiday. My son and I didn’t go on the elephants. I’ve been given no information as to what happened or how it happened.”
Witnesses have said that Golf appeared distressed before the rampage and had been refusing to follow instructions while the mahout attempted to take photos of Crowe and Eilidh. The mahout then reportedly struck Golf a number of times with a hook before he attacked, according to the Bangkok Post.
Local governor Wongsiri Phromchana has confirmed an investigation has been launched into the incident.
Crowe’s tragic death and the injuries borne by the mahout and young Eilidh are not the first and won’t be the last tourists will suffer due to the cruelty inflicted on elephants by hubristic humans looking to turn them from wild animals into tourist attractions.
“Elephants are cruelly abused to tame them enough so they give rides and perform in shows,” commented a spokeswoman from World Animal Protection.
“Most tourists don’t know about these abuses, or the potential danger they put themselves in. If you can ride it, hug it or have a selfie with a wild animal, then the chances are it is cruel and the animal is suffering.”
Animal rights site The Dodo published an article last month on the soul-destroying practice of ‘crushing’, which is undergone on young elephants so they can be tamed enough to interact with humans.
Per their article, “It’s a way of deliberately breaking the spirits of animals so humans can use them. Crushing involves tying up and literally beating an elephant into submission.”
Photos and details of the practice can be found within the article here. Please note, the photos are distressing.
While criticism levied against elephant trekking is finally gaining some traction outside the animal rights community, the fact is that the attractions and cruelty will persist so long as tourists continue to line up and pay for attractions like elephant trekking.
Tourists need to be educated on the weight of their decision to ride an elephant and what each individual animal has had to suffer through before becoming a tourist attraction.
Only when tourists stop paying to ride on the back of elephants will the cruelty against these wild animals hopefully wind down.
This is the age of responsible tourism; let’s stop funding cruelty against elephants.
Featured image is not related to this incident and is by Éclusette