CHIANG MAI: A couple overnighting on a nature study tour were lucky to escape serious injury when their tent was knocked down and their campsite destroyed by wild elephants, in Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary in the small hours of Sunday.
The man suffered bruising from a blow through the tent wall, and the couple spent the rest of the night fearful that the animals would return.
The sanctuary quickly issued an announcement shutting down the nature study programme.
The study tour covered a natural trail on Doi Mon Chong, a small mountain within the park straddling Chiang Mai and Tak provinces.
Navi Sinsupakul, chief of the Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary, said the incident occurred about 12.30am on Sunday.
The couple were camping out as part of the study tour.
The woman, who asked not to be identified, said she and her boyfriend heard noises outside the tent, which they attributed to some large animals. He suddenly received a painful blow to his right arm and shoulder through the tent wall. This caused chest pain and a slight breathing problem.
The tent was knocked down and when they extricated themselves they saw the campsite and their other gear had been flattened.
About 6.30am, a porter they had hired to accompany them and had been sleeping separately nearby told them that the camp had probably been overrun by at least two elephants, judging from the footprints left in the area.
They called wildlife officials for help and they arrived with an emergency van from Omkoi Hospital. The injured camper was taken to the hospital for treatment. He was found to have escaped with only bruising.
The sanctuary chief said it was quickly decided to close the nature study route on Doi Mon Chong for safety reasons. It would seem a herd of wild elephants had moved into the area.
The Omkoi Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses 765,000 rai in Omkoi and Doi Tao districts of Chiang Mai province and Mae Ramat and Sam Ngao districts of Tak province.