An elephant blasted in the head with an AK-47 rifle was found dead in Thailand. The male jumbo was in a state of decomposition when national park officers discovered his body in a small creek in Phetchaburi province on April 13. Two fatal gunshot wounds were lodged into the 10-year-old elephant’s head while 55 bullet casings from assorted guns – including a shotgun and the notorious Russian assault rifle – were found peppered across his torso. Wildlife officers took the jumbo’s body – estimated to have been dead for at least two months – to their facility for a post-mortem examination to continue investigations alongside the local police. Kaeng Krachan National Park chief Itthiphol Thaikamol said their team and staff from the Wildlife Conservation Society patrolled the area after locals reported that animal hunters were spotted in the forest. He said: ‘The team was only trying to find the animal hunters but we did not expect to see the dead elephant. We followed their tracks and then we saw the elephant corpse. ‘We met a group of locals searching for honey afterwards but they said they had not seen any hunters. ‘We have collected all the bullets. We will try to find the gun owners with the help of the police and file charges against them.’ Park rangers searched the area with metal detectors and found gun casings scattered around, including those from an automatic ‘Kalashnikov’ AK-47 assault rifle. Pichai Watcharawongpaiboon director of the Protected Areas Regional Office 3 said they were also looking for other possibilites regarding the death of the animal. He said: ‘There were bullets around the body so it was possible that he died from the gunshots but we were also checking for other angles. He may have survived the gunshots but was attacked by other elephants which led to his death.’ The national park officers are still waiting for the autopsy report from the veterinarians while investigations are ongoing. Elephants are the national animal of Thailand. An estimated 2,000 elephants are living in the wild and a similar number in captivity. In the wild, they roam through the deep jungle and in the country’s protected national parks but often encounter humans on roads and in villages. However, they are protected by laws and killing them carries a maximum prison term of up to three years and a fine of 1,000 baht (25GBP).