Thai Mammoth

Mystery ELEPHANT of Southeast Asia.

Physical description: Elephant with long hair on its back and around the tusks.

Distribution: Northwestern Thailand.

Significant sighting: Thai princess Rangsrino-padorn Yukol took some blurry aerial photographs of a herd of twenty-eight elephants in the Omkoi District of northwestern Thailand during a forestry survey by helicopter in 1984. She characterized the animals as surviving mammoths.

Present status: An expedition announced by the princess in December 2000 was called off at the request of the Royal Forestry Department, for security reasons.

pP'ossible explanation: A normal Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) that retains a large portion of juvenile hair, a condition that sometimes occurs in the northern part of the elephant's range.

Sources: "Scientists on the Trail of 'Thai Mammoths,'" Agence France Press release, December 7, 2000; "News Notes: Thailand Mammoths?" Crypto 4, no. 1 (January 2001): 19.

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