As private companies continue to hack away at forests inside Koh Kong’s Botum Sakor Nat-ional Park, herds of elephants have been forced from the jungle in recent weeks and spotted near human settlements.
Wildlife Allliance program manager Lesley Perlman said several elephants had begun appearing on the outskirts of Botum Sakor district’s Tanun village in mid-October.
“Increased habitat fragmentation will lead to increased human-elephant conflict,” Perlman said.
Villagers told Wildlife All-iance that between 20 and 30 elephants had been seen near their village.
They said this was the first time the enormous animals had been spotted so close.
Wildlife Alliance chief executive Suwanna Gauntlett flew to the area two weeks ago to educate villagers about the illegality of poaching elephants after rumours emerged that there were plans to kill one of the males spotted near the village, in order to harvest his ivory tusks.
“The Forestry Administration will take action on any elephant that is killed under Cambodian Forestry Law, where it is a Class I offence and involves a penalty of five to 10 years in prison,” Perlman said.
Botum Sakor district police chief Heng Savoeun said development by private companies had caused the elephants to roam into villagers’ territory.