RATCHABURI — A water buffalo who acted in one of Thai film’s most memorable historical war epics has died.
Phor Yai, 30, a male water buffalo, passed away on Monday night from old age. He was known for his beautiful, large horns which graced the “Bang Rajan” (2000) film.
As a young buck of 11 he played a buffalo on which villagers rode to war against the Burmese in 1765.
Phakjira Huttakitchamroen, his human companion “and equal,” told reporters that she rescued Phor Yai as a calf from a Phuket slaughterhouse by purchasing him for 80,000 baht.
Phakjira is a vegan nun as well as the owner of Suan Pan Itsaraphap farm in Thung Luang district. The farm houses 600 animals including strays. Her strain of veganism is Taoist jae, which also omits pungent herbs like garlic and onion.
As he was dying, Phakjira had a monk chant the Itipiso Buddhist chant to him 108 times.
“After he listened to all the chants he closed his eyes and left us,” Phakjira said.
Towards the end of his life, attendants had to hoist the 1 ton bull up so he could stand and eat grass. They also applied medicine to all four of his legs.
“He created so much goodness for us humans,” Phakjira said, referring to Phor Yai’s acting chops. “But he was about to be eaten by humans. Is that really a Buddhist thing to do? Is compassion only for humans, not animals?”
Phor Yai’s grave at the farm is three meters wide and long and almost as deep. The grave will be closed with a lock and key to prevent looters from stealing his skull and horns.
Phakjira showed reporters videos of kwais she was not able to rescue from markets.
“They’re all dead and eaten now. You can hear the mothers and children calling for each other. Do people not have morality anymore? Isn’t this a Buddhist country?”
Pro-junta party member Kulwalee Nopomroppadee and local district official Noraset Reungpayungsak attended Phor Yai’s funeral on Tuesday.
“Kwais have always been a part of Thai society, but now we are eating them. Stop allowing greed to cloud our hearts. Stop selling and eating them,” Phakjira said while crying.