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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Freedom short-lived as elephant again escapes

An elephant stands in a section of mondulkiri forest on sunday after it killed its handler and escaping. Photo supplied
An elephant stands in a section of mondulkiri forest on sunday after it killed its handler and escaping. Photo supplied

Freedom short-lived as elephant again escapes

An elephant that killed its owner in Mondulkiri province in September was recaptured yesterday afternoon after having escaped into the jungle for three days, according to the conservation NGO Airavata, which bought the bull after its old owner’s death.

Seng Pich, the group’s spokesperson, said Mai the elephant enjoyed a short-lived escape into the jungle in Pech Chreada district’s Sre Ampoum commune after being taken out of shackles put in place by the grieving family and had to be recaptured using a trap.

“He is very mild, but he has a lot of tricks,” Pich said. “For the capture, we did not use rifles or tranquilizers, we used a wooden elephant trap. ”She said the organisation’s Bun Roeung Plal had been sitting atop Mai and training it to carry tourists when the elephant suddenly stormed off into the forest and forced him to jump off to avoid injury.

“When I unchained its legs and climbed on its back, it walked fast and swayed its body horribly, but I did not fall, and I jumped off by myself since its behaviour became strange,” Roeung Plal said.

After the September death of Mai’s older owner, the family of the man had wanted the elephant shot and its tusks sold for ivory, but police refused to shoot the elephant and the family agreed to sell the elephant to Airavata in Ratanakkiri province for $11,500.

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