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

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Thai border crossings eased

    The Cambodian Embassy in Thailand said in an announcement on Wednesday that Thailand’s government has allowed certain passengers from several countries to enter its borders. The visitors must go back to their country immediately after their duties in Thailand are fulfilled, the embassy said.

  • Gov’t says tourism recovers slightly despite pandemic

    The Ministry of Tourism and the Phnom Penh municipal administration have recognised 33 tourism businesses in the capital which have consistently implemented safety measures for tourists and adhered to the code of conduct issued by the ministry. Recently, the ministry announced that tourism businesses had to

  • Mull ASEAN border opening, PM urges

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested that ASEAN launch a scenario for gradually reopening cross-border travel and trade between countries in the region. He said ASEAN has had more success combating Covid-19 compared to other regions. The prime minister’s request was made at the

  • Ministry reports 11 new Covid-19 cases, reiterates vigilance

    Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng has urged people to continue practising virus prevention techniques after 11 people tested positive for Covid-19 within two days after arriving in the Kingdom. Speaking on Sunday, Bun Heng stressed the importance of washing hands, wearing masks or scarves when

  • Koh Rong land ‘belongs to firm’

    Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesperson Kheang Phearum told The Post on Sunday that the 35ha being bulldozed by Royal Group Co Ltd in Koh Rong belongs to it after it was leased to it for 99 years by the government in 2008. Phearum said the land does

  • Nine on Indonesia flight Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health on Saturday confirmed nine more imported cases of Covid-19. The nine ‒ eight Cambodians and one Indonesian, aged 22 to 26 ‒ arrived in Cambodia on Thursday via a direct flight from Indonesia and are receiving treatment at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hostipal in Phnom Penh.

  • Kingdom’s financial sector healthy

    Cambodia's financial sector remains on a sustainable growth path despite the Covid-19 pandemic squeezing crucial industries, National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Chanto said. Tourism, garments and footwear have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 impact, he said, whereas the financial and agriculture sectors

  • Vietnam told to remove border tents

    Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophoan has ordered local authorities to prohibit the construction of buildings in areas bordering Cambodia and to report any irregularities immediately. Recently, Vietnamese officials removed another seven tents from the border area with Cambodia. His remarks were made on Wednesday afternoon