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Elephant found dead in Mondulkiri protected area

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An elephant is found dead at a cashew nut plantation in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo supplied

Elephant found dead in Mondulkiri protected area

An elephant was found dead at a cashew nut plantation in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district on Sunday.

Experts initially thought the elephant may have been poisoned by a chemicals used by locals, but later confirmed it had been shot.

It was estimated the elephant died around 10 days ago, but its carcass was only found on Sunday. The male elephant was 2.70m tall, 4.50m long and 1.50m wide, according to Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary’s report.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said an examination of the elephant’s body showed it was shot for ivory, with its tail also cut off.

“There was a gunshot wound on the elephant’s body. We are investigating the case,” he said.

Collecting Samples

Din Bunthoeun, the provincial environment department’s deputy director, said they are collecting samples and other evidence in relation to the elephant’s death. After examination, he added, experts will send samples to the ministry in Phnom Penh for further study.

“I am collecting samples from the scene and the cashews the elephant ate for examination. We want to see whether they contain poison as the elephant ate ripe cashews,” he said, adding that the elephant’s worn feet indicated it was old.

Villagers are known to use chemicals in plantations in the area, often resulting in wildlife dying from poisoning, Bunthoeun said.

“[We] want all people and relevant stakeholders to pay attention to wildlife,particularly farmers who use a lot of chemical substances. During the harvest season, animals eat fruit and are poisoned, so please stop using so many chemicals."

“Sometimes, chemical substances flow [into water sources], so it not only affects animals, but also affects people,” he said.

Experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society conducted an elephant census using a hidden camera system in 2010, estimating that there were between 120 and 170 elephants in the province’s protected areas.

However, Bunthoeun said at least three elephants have died as a result of illegal poaching and old age in the province over the past three years.


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