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An elephant hides in a forest yesterday in Mondulkiri province after trampling his owner to death. MONDULKIRI ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICE
An elephant hides in a forest yesterday in Mondulkiri province after trampling his owner to death. Mondulkiri Environmental Office

Elephant kills his owner near Mondulkiri resort

A male elephant in rut killed his owner yesterday morning in Mondulkiri’s Sen Monorom district after being unshackled to take photographs with a group of tourists, local officials said.

Norng Chanthea, a Romnea commune police officer, said the incident took place at 11:30am in Pu Tang village, near the O’Romis stream, close to a resort.

The victim, 47-year-old Phnong villager Choeung Team, used the elephant – named Atork – to show tourists the ethnic minority’s way of life.

“The owner was killed by his elephant when it was in rut,” Chanthea said. “Now it is in the forest, and no one can get close to it.”

The victim’s nephew Saroeun Naro, 37, said a group of tourists had asked the guide to release the Atork’s leg shackles to take photos. While the group was preparing lunch, the elephant walked away. Afraid the elephant might escape, Choeung Team followed him.

“I don’t know what the problem of Atork was,” Naro said. “Maybe he needed a female elephant or he was angry with my uncle.”

Naro said that when Choeung Team found the 60-year-old elephant, “Atork used his trunk to beat him and trampled on him”.

District chief Long Vibol said authorities brought the body back home for the funeral.

“We used many forces to chase [the elephant] away,” he said.

Vibol said villagers had used six elephants over the past several years to show tourists around in the village.

Another Mondulkiri man was killed by his elephant – believed to be experiencing a natural hormonal surge called “musth” – last September while trying to force the elephant to return home after it had escaped for several days. The elephant was subsequently recaptured.
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