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TORONTO - Six wild elephants have died after they fell over a dangerous waterfall in southern Thailand, according to officials.
In a statement, Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation said they discovered the dead body of a young elephant that was approximately three years old on the first tier of the Haew Narok waterfall in Khao Yai National Park on Saturday morning.
The bodies of another five elephants were located nearby, the department said. Authorities said all six of the elephants drowned.
It’s believed the animals were attempting to save each other because park staff found two other elephants standing on a cliff edge beside the waterfall trying to get down to the bottom where the elephant calf’s body was found.
Although those two elephants were in a “weakened” state when they were spotted, officials were able to rescue them from the cliff. On its Facebook page, the Khao Yai Gaur conservation group said the two elephants were rescued at approximately 2:30 p.m. local time on Saturday.
The dead animals were discovered after park staff was called to the area at 3 a.m. local time because a herd of elephants was blocking traffic on a road near the waterfall. Three hours later, they located the young elephant’s body at the bottom of the waterfall.
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation’s notice said the waterfall had been temporarily closed to tourists so officials can treat the surviving elephants and remove the bodies of the others.
The three-tiered Haew Narok waterfall, which translates to “hell’s abyss,” is the biggest in Khao Yai National Park. According to the park’s website, the waterfall’s is 80 metres high and elephant activity is “very common” in the area.
Thailand’s Ministry of Tourism and Sports said one or two elephants have fallen over the Haew Narok waterfall every year since 1987. The most devastating loss occurred in 1992 when a herd of eight elephants fell into the waterfall and died.