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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Elephant saved from village wrath

Elephant saved from village wrath

Elephant.jpg
Elephant.jpg

Sambat, after his journey by crane and truck, is safely hobbled in Siem Reap.

Sambat, a wild bull elephant that has been raiding villages and farms around Sre

Ambel in the province of Koh Kong, has been captured.

The elephant's life was in danger from local people and land owners because of the

damage it was causing to villages and crops. Instructions from the government were

that the four-ton Asiatic elephant, an endangered species, should be detained, and

not killed.

WildAid and Flora and Fauna (FFI), both international conservation organizations

with bases in Phnom Penh, teamed up to capture the elephant, which had foiled capture

attempts in the past.

Wildfires had sent the adolescent bull elephant to the village of Veal Ring. After

days of tracking, a WildAid veterinarian darted the elephant, then brought a special

truck and crane for transporting the animal.

Cat Action Treasury, also with a base in Phnom Penh, lent the truck, indicating the

welcome spirit of co-operation that exists between some wildlife NGOs in Cambodia.

"All the NGOs need to work together to save the dozens of endangered species

in Cambodia, otherwise we'll see species of wildlife disappear in front of our eyes,"

said Suwanna Gauntlett, a founder of WildAid and country director of its Cambodian

operations.

Due to Sambat's history and a wound originating from a previous incident with a snare,

the elephant was considered inappropriate for release by wildlife experts, and the

organization Compagnie des Elephants d'Angkor in Siem Reap agreed to take him.

Sambat is settling remarkably well in Siem Reap. He had a trunk injury that seems

to have healed naturally. If this was a snare wound, which we believe it was, he

would not really equate it with people.

When he raided their crops locals certainly tried to frighten him away, which

had the effect of making him more nervous, although he does not now seem particularly

frightened of people.

Jamran, another elephant we captured close to Sihanoukville last year for similar

reasons, is now at Phnom Tamao. He had fared far worse at the hands of local people,

who fired catapults at him and burned the top of his head with battery acid - he

had a large wound which is now completely healed. Jamran is now very easygoing and

likes those who are involved with him very much. So one could say that nothing that

has happened has traumatised either of them too much.

Sambat could end up being cared for at the elephant facility in Siem Reap for the

rest of his days.

It was initially thought that a third elephant, which had been raiding crops at Mong

Reththy near Sihanoukville, and was captured on March 18 after being tranquillised,

was an ex-domestic, which would make it an inappropriate candidate for translocation

to another forest as it would almost certainly reoffend.

We now feel he is a young bull at an age when he would naturally want to leave his

herd and lead a more nomadic existence.

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