LAMPANG: Plai Jampui, an elephant famed for his beautiful two-metre-long ivory tusks, has died at the age of 49.
The death of the male pachyderm was announced on Saturday by the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Hang Chat district of this northern province.
His tusks, which authorities said could have fetched as much as 40 million baht on the illegal ivory market, were removed and placed in safekeeping before the animal was buried.
Elephant lovers who learned of Plai Jampui's passing took to social media to express their sorrow for the jumbo, whose tusks were a big attraction for tourists visiting the centre.
Some expressed concern that the tusks might vanish after the death of the animal. However, officials of the centre said they were now in the care of the Forest Industry Organisation as a national asset.
Pasakorn Meevasana, director of the National Elephant Institute in Lampang, said Plai Jampui was renowned for having the most beautiful and longest ivory tusks in the North.
Sittidet Mahasawongkul, head of the Lampang-based centre's elephant hospital, confirmed on Saturday that Plai Jampui died on Thursday after receiving treatment for acute flatulence and internal infections.
He said the death served as a reminder to mahouts and elephant camps across the country to be very careful about the grass and food given to elephants.