Tourists warned on encounters with elephants at Khao Yai National Park

KHAO YAI National Park has warned tourists not to take photos of wild elephants, saying it is dangerous and slows traffic.

Meanwhile, the problem of garbage in the park has been reduced, thanks to a concerted campaign against littering.

Tourists travelling to the park for the New Year holidays may have a great opportunity to encounter wild elephants.

However, Khao Yai National Park chief Kanchit Srinoppawan cautioned yesterday that it was dangerous to get too close to these animals or photograph them because this can stress them out and they might attack.

"Wild elephants are quite commonly seen in Khao Yai National Park. They are usually seen crossing the roads, and it is always very exciting for tourists from urban areas. However, I suggest that we should not interfere with them and should drive past them carefully," Kanchit said.

He said that during this long |holiday, the roads in the park were clogged with heavy traffic because more than 17,000 tourists visit every day, and part of the highway between Prachin Buri and Nakhon Ratchasima is also situated within the national park.

So, he asked drivers to take extra care when in the park area, because wild animals often cross the roads, and they should not feed or take photos of them.

About the garbage problem, Kanchit said things had improved this New Year after an intensive campaign to encourage tourists to pack up their garbage and take it back home with them - or leave it in the rest areas in exchange for souvenirs.

"I can see that during this New Year festival, tourists are being more conscientious, and many of them collect their waste and do not litter."

During the festive period, female Khao Yai staff dressed in traditional Thai costumes have urged tourists to drive carefully and collect their garbage.

Bags of waste could be exchanged for snacks and souvenirs at the national park's rest areas before people left the park.