An elephant found dead and decaying in Mondulkiri’s Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary was slaughtered for its tusks and trunk, officials said yesterday, while offering a reward to anyone who helps find the poachers.
Chhit Sophal, Mondulkiri provincial director of the environment department, said he believes the people who slaughtered three elephants in the same area in October last year are responsible, and that they might be local residents.
He also said there was no evidence of how the male elephant, which died about a week ago, met his end.
“We found that the tusk and trunk were cut off, but we have not found bullet holes, since it [the body] is rotten,” Sophal said. “The elephant is small, they should not have killed it. We suspect the local people. They are not the outsiders.”
“They killed a wild ox and transported it by three motorbikes, then escaped and left the slaughtered animal when our forces saw them,” Sophal said, referring to a group of local poachers on the loose.
He added that they must have tracked the elephant over many days to hunt it down.
The department director claimed that the 47 officials and rangers on patrol in the sprawling sanctuary don’t cover a lot of territory during the rainy season.
“It is not perfect, since the rangers will not patrol when it rains. But I do not believe that they collude with those poachers. Our officials have been trained, and if I figure out that the rangers colluded with them, I will not pardon them,” Sophal went on to say.
He said that the salaries of some officials, which are financed by the nature and conservation NGO WWF, were cut because they weren’t active enough at work. To encourage people to come forward, he announced a two million riel ($500) reward for anyone whose cooperation leads to the arrest of the suspects.
Samrang Dy Vichet, Phnom Prich Sanctuary director, denied that salaries were taken away for poor performance, saying he and his subordinates do the best work they can.
Dy Vichet said that his officials and experts from WWF are preparing an inspection at the site in order to determine the cause of the death. Ten officials have been assigned to guard the dead body before the examination takes place.
Chhit Sam Ath, the executive director of WWF in Cambodia, said WWF is working with the officials.