Surveillance stepped up after elephants damage fencing in Kaeng Krachan National Park

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Rangers in Kaeng Krachan National Park have intensified their patrols after wild elephants were found to have damaged protective fencing, prompting concerns over potential encounters between the animals and local communities.

On August 28, 2023, Mr. Somjet Chanthana, the head of Kaeng Krachan National Park, led a team of more than 20 personnel, including rangers, special forces soldiers, and local representatives, in a comprehensive survey of vulnerable areas. This came after villagers reported wild elephants breaching the fences, causing damage, and seeking food on roads and within villages in Huay Sat Yai in Prachuap Khiri Khan, as well as in Phetchaburi province.

The park’s fencing, designed to direct elephants away from adjacent agricultural fields, have helped in reducing human-elephant conflicts in the area. The fences not only keep elephants within the park boundaries but are also designed to allow smaller wildlife to pass through. According to data from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), incidents involving humans and elephants dropped significantly from more than 400 in 2005 to about 40 in 2020, largely attributed to these passive barriers.

Protecting communities from the occasional wandering elephant involves a multifaceted approach. Communities have pooled private funds and collaborated with various agencies to devise solutions, such as the introduction of “forest cloth” barriers. However, the process hasn’t been without challenges. “Current inspections have revealed damages at several points on the fences, making them vulnerable to breaches by elephants,” stated Chanthana.

Emphasizing the need for more robust support, Chanthana added, “With adequate budgetary allocation, we could significantly enhance the durability and efficiency of these barriers.”

To address this joint patrols comprising with rangers from the park and other agencies have been deployed in a bid to ensure the safety of both the elephants and the local communities.

Recent media reports showing elephants blocking vehicles or wandering on tourist roads have amplified the urgency to address the situation, resulting in increased patrol intensity by park officials.

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