Eleven elephants are confirmed to have died at a Thai waterfall after trying to rescue a calf from death, the New York Post reported.
Officials had originally found six elephants dead at the Khao Yai National Park in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 5 incident.
Five more dead elephants were found by a drone on Tuesday.
The tragedy is believed to have occurred when a 3-year-old calf went over the edge of a waterfall known as Haew Narok — “Hell’s Fall” — and the rest of the herd tried to save them.
“Probably, one of the smaller elephants might have slid and the adult ones were trying to rescue them but instead, were swept away by the water,” Badin Chansrikam, a Thai official, said.
Footage from the Post shows just how dangerous the falls are:
According to Channel News Asia, two other elephants survived after they fell off of the 200-meter (656 feet) precipice.
In addition to the waterfall, the park is known for having over 300 wild elephants spread out over its 2,000 square kilometers.
This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened, either. In 1992, eight elephants perished in a similar incident at Haew Narok.
There are only a few thousand wild elephants estimated to be left in Thailand due to habitat loss, making these deaths all the more tragic.
“They follow their leaders, and sometimes when the young ones fall, it is only natural that the elder ones will try and reach down and help,” natural resources and environment minister Varawut Silpa-archa told AFP.
The 11 elephants who were killed can’t be recovered at the moment; a net has been set up to catch their bodies when they move downstream.
The two surviving elephants are “alive and kicking,” according to Varawut, and should make a speedy recovery.
As for preventative measures, the Thai government says it’s going to be beefing up security around the waterfall so this hopefully doesn’t happen again.
“I have instructed them to reinforce the fences and barricades that they currently have,” Varawut said.
In addition to the fences, officials at the park will also attempt to create more sources of water and food away from the falls; one of the predominant theories as to why the animals came near Haew Narok is a lack of those two necessities.
Thailand is currently experiencing a drought.
It’s a saddening event, made all the more so because these animals died, in part, due to their tight familial bonds.
These beautiful creatures all risked their lives to save a defenseless member of their herd. It ended up costing a great number of their lives. One can only hope Thai authorities are able to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
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