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

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Pursat Ford assembly plant opens

    The Kingdom’s first Ford assembly plant was inaugurated on June 16 in Pursat province amid rising demand for brand-new vehicles among Cambodians. The facility is seen as a game changer for the domestic automobile industry, which could bring a wave of investors seeking to cash

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Angkor photo rules clarified

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) denied that it had banned the use of camera tripods in the Angkor Archaeological Park, explaining that the confusion stemmed from a long-standing rule which required commercial photographers and videographers to apply for permission to film. The explanation followed a

  • $50B infrastructure plan en route

    The government’s upcoming $50 billion,10-year infrastructure master plan will provide tremendous investment opportunities for domestic and foreign entities, transport experts and economists say. Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol revealed the plan to Japanese ambassador to Cambodia Masahiro Mikami on June 15. At

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led