(TMU) — Six wild elephants have tragically fallen to their deaths in Thailand after being caught in a notoriously dangerous waterfall as they attempted to save a baby elephant from the violent, cascading water.
The deaths took place at Khao Yai National Park, which spans 772 square miles (2,000 square km) of forest and grassland. The park is home to about 300 wild elephants, along with other wild animals such as gibbons, elephants and bears.
Reuters reports that two of the elephants involved in the incident were saved at the Haew Narok Waterfall in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, according to officials.
Officials say that workers heard the elephants’ cries from the waterfall, which is known to locals as the “Ravine of Hell,” early Saturday morning, according to the Independent.
When park officials arrived at the scene, they found a three-year-old baby elephant calf drowned at the waterfall with five other drowned elephants nearby. Two male elephants were standing nearby, struggling to maintain their footing along the edge of the crag.
Edwin Wiek, who heads the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, said that one of the survivors was the mother of the deceased baby elephant.
In a tweet, the founder of Thailand’s first wildlife hospital said:
“Currently rangers are looking for ways to rescue two surviving elephants, one of them the mother of a calf that drowned.”
Currently rangers are looking for ways to rescue two surviving elephants, one of them the mother of a calf that drowned. pic.twitter.com/RhHrB2u1b9
— Edwin Wiek (@EdwinWiek) October 5, 2019
Speaking to BBC, the leading conservationist noted that the elephants are highly reliant on members of their herd, and could have trouble surviving without them due to the difficulty of finding protection and food without their large group.
Wiek said that for the survivors, their loss is “like losing half your family.”
The next goal, he explained, is for rescuers to hopefully “get the carcasses to an area where they can lift them with a backhoe (an excavating digger) and bury them there.”
“The decomposing bodies will be too smelly and spread of disease is a concern.”
Saturday’s unfortunate incident at the waterfall is not the first of its kind. In 1992, a herd of eight elephants died after falling from the waterfall.
Officials hope that they will be able to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.
Authorities have already ordered that a barricade be erected to prevent animals from plummeting into the waterfall, and food banks will also be established in hopes to mitigate the food scarcity that drives animals to venture into dangerous locations in search of sustenance.