A Scottish tourist was gored to death by an elephant that he and his 16-year-old stepdaughter were riding on the resort island of Samui, Thai authorities tell the AP. A police lieutenant says the animal threw Gareth Crowe and Eilidh Hughes to the ground during a trek on Monday. The elephant then gored Crowe with his tusk and stomped on him. Thai news reports say the elephant became enraged after its trainer climbed off to take a picture of the tourists; police think hot weather may have disturbed the 13-year-old. The trainer, who is from Myanmar, was also gored, and Eilidh was injured from her fall; both were hospitalized. There was speculation the elephant may have been in a state of musth, when it becomes more aggressive during its mating cycle, but Cherdchai Jaroenwech of the Office of Livestock Development says that was not the case.
Elephants are Thailand's de facto national animal and were once featured on the country's flag. Their numbers have declined in recent decades as expanding human settlements have reduced their natural habitats. The beasts once were used for logging, but deforestation and a subsequent ban on most logging has led to many elephants now being used as tourist attractions. Cherdchai, who shot the elephant with a tranquilizer dart Monday evening, says it was taken back to the corral of its trekking company owners, Island Safari, where it was attended to by its usual caretakers and showered constantly to cool off while remaining chained. He says the elephant, dubbed Rambo (but also called by the nickname Golf), will take a 15-day break from work and then be moved to another branch of the trekking company in either Krabi or Phang Nga. (Read more Thailand stories.)