Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Elephant in Mondulkiri dies from apparent malnutrition after being shackled



Elephant in Mondulkiri dies from apparent malnutrition after being shackled

After being shackled for more than 20 days, an elephant in Mondulkiri collapsed from malnutrition on Saturday and died several hours later. Facebook
After being shackled for more than 20 days, an elephant in Mondulkiri collapsed from malnutrition on Saturday and died several hours later. Facebook

Elephant in Mondulkiri dies from apparent malnutrition after being shackled

An elephant in Mondulkiri died from apparent malnutrition on Saturday after being shackled for over 20 days because it was in musth, a naturally occurring periodic hormone surge.

The male elephant, named Boek Ku, 35, died Saturday afternoon in Romanea commune's Putang village near Sen Monorom. It had passed out as a result of a lack of food, according to commune Police Chief Pich Sotheary.

Sotheary said the elephant was in musth – a condition in which testosterone levels spike and elephants can become aggressive – and ran away from his owner Choch Cehl on March 26, destroying crops.
Forestry administration (FA) officials worked with Wildlife Alliance to sedate the elephant the next day to shackle it.

“It was shackled until the 21st without enough food and water, and it fell ill and died,” he said. “Some food was provided as well, but they did not take care of it.”

He said a death last year of a mahout trampled by an elephant had made the owner fearful. In that case, the elephant was subsequently shot dead by authorities. “He was scared of the elephant,” he said.

Sotheary added that after the death, the owner and relatives gathered and performed a traditional elephant burial in the forest.

Villager Rom Thet said the owner had been feeding the elephant with banana trees, but that it had not eaten much. He added that the elephant had also been used as a tourist attraction, including giving rides to visitors.

Try Sitheng, head of the animal care section at Phnom Tamao Zoo’s Wildlife Rescue Centre, said that Forestry Administration officials, in cooperation with Wildlife Alliance, had anaesthetised the elephant in order to shackle it to a tree.

He said that an elephant needs over 100 litres of drinking water per day, in addition to water for bathing and playing.

“The death is 100 percent due to a lack of care. Lack of water and food in the dry season would cause its death,” he said.

“If there had been a problem caused by the anaesthesia, it should have happened on that day or a day after it only.”

Ngin Sovimean, head of the Mondulkiri provincial Tourism Department, said that about 10 elephants in Putang village give rides to tourists, though currently owners prefer to let tourists watch, bathe and feed the elephants instead.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting