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Missing man emerges from forest after 3 weeks dodging elephants

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: The man was lost in rubber plantations like this one, evading elephants for 3 weeks. (via thinglishlifestyle.com)

Like a scene out of an adventure movie, a 43 year old man stumbled out of a clearing in eucalyptus and rubber plantations to recount an incredible 21-day journey he spent lost in the wilderness and fleeing from wild elephants. The tale took place in Prachin Buri, the central province to the east of Bangkok after the man, Thongsa Wanthumma, went missing on December 22.

Police searched for the missing man and turned up his motorbike 5 days later on December 27. It was sitting about 8 kilometres from the home of his mother and him, 10 kilometres from his work as a timber cutter at a eucalyptus plantation, seemingly abandoned in the middle of a rubber plantation.

Thongsa said that he had abandoned his bike there in a panic while he was driving along a trail in the middle of the eucalyptus plantation when he was shocked by stumbling into a large herd of wild elephants. Afraid of being trampled, the man jumped off his bike and ran into the rubber and eucalyptus fields to escape the elephants.

Once he was safe from the elephants, the flustered man suddenly found himself lost in the middle of the massive plantations that span about 20,000 rai, unable to find his way back to his motorbike. As he wandered, searching for an exit or a road, he said that he repeatedly encountered wild elephants in the area.

Indeed, friends and neighbours had gone searching for the missing man and had uncovered 2 mutilated bodies covered with leaves and dirt, indicating and at some point they’d been trampled to death by elephants which gave them this sort of burial after.

He spent the next 3 weeks trying to avoid crossing paths with the elephant herds roaming the area with him, elephants that wandered from the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary nearby to feed, while he himself tried to find food and water to survive.

“In the plantations, I had no food. I survived by eating sour leaves and drank from ponds and irrigation canals. At night I slept on leaves that I gathered to keep myself warm.”

After foraging for weeks, praying to his parents and the holy spirit’s for blessings to find his way, the man stumbled out of the woods, clearly battered, using a piece of wood as a crutch as he walked with a limp from wandering and evading elephants while malnourished.

Thongsa met a neighbour on the road and hitched a ride to a relative’s house and is now finally back home in his village in Kabin Buri district.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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