An elephant that has wreaked havoc in Kampong Speu province’s Mon village in the last two weeks was finally subdued yesterday by wildlife experts and local authorities using tranquilisers.
The elephant, known as Sambo, trampled its owner on December 3 and fled into nearby jungle, from which it has since terrorised local residents by raiding farms and destroying crops.
Jack Highwood, director of the NGO Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment in Mondulkiri province, assisted in subduing the rampaging elephant, who was shot with tranquiliser darts and then chained to the ground in an effort to restrain the animal until authorities decide where to transport it.
“It’s a wait-and-see situation. He’s sedated and chained quite heavily, and we’ve tied the chains to a log in the ground which we’ve buried in order to keep him under control. Hopefully, that will hold him,” Highwood said.
“The next step is to limit his food and water intake and keep him alive. We will help the Forestry Administration look after him until they can find a solution.”
Animal experts from the ELIE, Wildlife Alliance and the Forestry Administration worked together to subdue Sambo, while local police and military helped keep the crowds of onlookers back from the unpredictable and hostile elephant.
“Until now, we were not able to catch Sambo because he was very aggressive and no one could get close to him to detain him and prevent him from hurting or killing other people,” Kampong Speu Governor Kang Heang said yesterday.
He added that local authorities lacked the equipment and resources to properly control the elephant, which led to delays in taking action, as authorities and the experts involved wanted to use peaceful means to capture him.
“Today is a huge accomplishment. The Forestry Administration, Wildlife Alliance and the ELIE managed to successfully work together with local authorities to capture the elephant and keep it alive. The FA did a very good job of tranquilising the elephant, and he is not dead because we prevented him from falling over,” said Highwood.
What comes next depends on the Forestry Administration, which has yet to determine where the elephant will ultimately end up.
“The options in Cambodia are very limited. The best option appears to be the Phnom Tamao Zoo, but that is not my decision; that is the Forestry Administration’s decision, and we would
be more than happy to help them with fundraising,” said Highwood.
“Domestic elephants cannot return to the forest. In some situations sanctuary is a possibility. A week ago or a time closer to the sad event of the elephant’s killing of his mahout, we could have possibly taken it into our sanctuary, but now it knows how to chase and kill people, and it is a danger to humans and other elephants.”