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Elephant craze for pineapples forces Thai growers out of business

BANGKOK – Wild elephants which ignored guns, firecrackers and barbed wire in their crazed pursuit of ripe pineapples have forced some Thai fruit growers to switch to dairy farming, a report said Tuesday.

The confrontation had led to the deaths of scores of elephants at the hands of farmers who were trying to protect their crops and livelihood from the rampaging beasts, according to the Bangkok Post.

But growers in a district of Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand’s best-known pineapple growing region, have finally admitted defeated and decided to turn their plantations over to dairy farming, it said.

Village headman Nong Chaengruen said he would ask the government for help to switch to a new industry which would allow his people to peacefully co-exist with the elephants.

Local officials said the wild elephants, whose numbers had expanded rapidly over the last decade, had plenty to eat in the jungle but were turning up their trunks at their usual fare in favour of the sweet   fruit.

“It’s because they like pineapples. Once they know how good the fruit tastes, nothing can stop them from coming back,” village administrator Tinat Poolpipat told the Post.

Villagers said the firecrackers and barbed wire used to fend off the beasts had become ineffective because elephants were quick learners and never fell for the same trick twice.

“They don’t want to kill the animals and would welcome a new occupation that would make co-existence with elephants possible,” Tinat said.

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