The field reporting and documented photo work by people working in the field
Khlong Mahad elephant response volunteers cannot count how many times they have to leave their houses to roam around rice fields in the province of Chachoengsao’s Tha Takiab, which is a hotbed of Human Elephant Conflict (HEC). But as the rice in the fields in the community and as far away as the adjacent province of Chon Buri is about to bloom and yield a good harvest, it’s time they are about to roam around.
Like the volunteers, wild elephants in the adjacent Ang Lue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary know by instinct that it’s time to leave the sanctuary for the aromatic rice. Around October through the end of the year, wild elephants, generally not as individuals, but as a herd of 10 to 50 and even 100, will try to sneak out of the sanctuary to roam in the rice fields to feed on rice.
The volunteers and wildlife rangers of the sanctuary will usually team up to guard the rice so it will not be damaged by a big herd of elephants. They will alert one another once a few of the beasts are spotted around, and then a troop of volunteers will be mobilised days and nights to push back the elephants before they can get into the fields and feed and so on. That’s the time that the volunteers and the elephants both know that the season to roam (and rage) starts!
“If we cannot block them, they will get into the rice fields of the villagers and feed on and on. So, we have mobilised tens of us to help one another to push them back as early as possible, or otherwise, they will roam as far as Chon Buri as there is all rice waiting for them there!” said Navee Cheachean, a leader of Chon Buri elephant response volunteer group, who rushed to help Khong Mahad volunteers since the first night_to no avail as the elephants looked starved and started to fight them back.
He is a leader of the Chon Buri elephant response volunteer group