Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Herd of elephants rescued from muddy bomb crater

Herd of elephants rescued from muddy bomb crater

Eleven wild elephants, including a baby, were rescued from a mud-filled bomb crater in Mondulkiri province on Saturday after languishing in the swampy waters for four days_Keo Sopheak. Mondulkiri Province Environmental Office/AFP
Eleven wild elephants, including a baby, were rescued from a mud-filled bomb crater in Mondulkiri province on Saturday after languishing in the swampy waters for four days. Keo Sopheak/Mondulkiri Province Environmental Office/AFP

Herd of elephants rescued from muddy bomb crater

Eleven wild elephants were rescued on Saturday in Mondulkiri’s Keo Seima protected area after becoming trapped in a former bomb crater without food for four days, though rangers will continue to monitor the herd to ensure it reaccepts one juvenile who was handled by humans during the rescue.

Olly Griffin, a technical advisor with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said the operation was a “big team effort” between civil society groups, government authorities and local villagers.

“A large part of the credit goes to the local people from the area, who showed concern and compassion for the plight of the elephants,” Griffin said yesterday.

The 3-metre-deep bomb crater had been repurposed as a water storage pond, and Griffin said the elephants may have been seeking water when they became trapped.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People gather around a mud-filled crater in the Keo Seima protected area in which 11 wild elephants became trapped five days ago. AKP

Keo Sopheak, director of the province’s environmental department, said the walls of the pit were too steep for the elephants to climb out of, and as the water began to dry, they became mired in the mud.

“After we watered them, some villagers helped cut bamboo leaves for them to eat because they do not have food for four days. We dug out the sides of the pit and placed wood planks for them to walk on,” said Sopheak.

WCS supplied equipment likes ropes and digging tools, which allowed 10 of the 11 elephants to successfully exit on their own.

One young elephant, however, was too weak to leave unassisted. Griffin explained that as the sun began to set and the pit began to fill with rainwater, rescuers made the difficult decision to tie a rope to the young elephant and forcibly pull it out of the pit.

“The mother may abandon the elephant,” Griffin said, noting that the herd may be spooked if the youngster smells like humans.

“It ran off in the same direction as the rest of the herd … We will send some rangers to observe whether or not he is accepted.”

Yan Socheat, one of village rescuers, said locals were aware that there were elephants in the area for about a week, but didn’t realise they were in trouble.

Video footage shows rescuers pulling out the young elephant, who subsequently tramples one of his liberators as he flees. Socheat said the rescuer was stunned, but uninjured.

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Siem Reap’s Angkor Botanical Garden opens

    The Angkor Botanical Garden was officially opened on May 19 with free entry for both local and international visitors for the first six weeks. The garden was established on a nearly 15ha plot of land in Siem Reap. “After the first six weeks, Angkor Botanical Garden

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub