Elephants Join Search for Missing 2-Year-Old Boy

In this Sunday, Dec. 23, 2018, photo released by Suphan Buri City, four mahouts and their elephants attend a prayer session with rescue workers and officials before joining the search operation, in Suphan Buri, Thailand. Photo: Suphan Buri City via Associated Press

BANGKOK — Four elephants mounted by their mahouts have joined the search for a 2-year-old boy from Myanmar who has been missing in Thailand for a week, as hundreds of rescuers combed through a sugarcane field for traces of the missing child.

Sului Piew, a son of migrant workers from Myanmar, went missing Dec. 17 when he went out to play near the sugarcane plantation where his parents work. Nimit Wanchaithanawong, the governor of Suphan Buri province, said Sului’s family was alerted of his disappearance when his 3-year-old friend told her parents that she saw Sului being abducted.

“We set up a search operation center near the field and we will continue with the search in full steam,” Nimit, who is in charge of the search operation, said Monday. “It’s been more than a week and the child is so young. These few days will be very critical to all of us.”

The search for Sului officially began last Wednesday and has involved hundreds of volunteer rescue workers, police officers and soldiers who have been deployed to search an 80-acre field of around 2-meter-high (6.5-foot-high) sugarcane plants. A team of divers has also searched nearby ponds to find clues of the boy’s whereabouts.



The latest to offer assistance to the search operation are the mahouts and their elephants from a neighboring province.

Laithongrien Meepan, the elephants’ owner, said the animals would be able to scour the vast sugarcane plantation for signs of life because they can sense the presence of life.

“If we find a child, or dogs lying around, they know not to step on that,” Laithongrien said. “Mahouts can look out into the distance and elephants will raise their trunks to smell.”