A Phnong man was crushed to death by a stampeding herd of wild elephants in Mondulkiri province on Friday, police confirmed yesterday.
O’Raing District Police Chief Buo Bunchheat said the victim, Srot Chol, 49, was killed in the Chong Rang area about 10 kilometres from his home village of Pou Hyeam, in Sen Monorom commune.
Bunchheat said Roman Kil – Chol’s second cousin, who was with him at the time of the attack but managed to escape – told police he and Chol brought two dogs into the forest to hunt for mushrooms, resin and honey.
“While we were picking the mushrooms, both dogs ran toward us and then we saw the herd, consisting of about six elephants, chasing behind,” Bunchheat quoted from Kil’s police statement.
“At the time, we tried to find a safe place individually, but Chol tripped over a vine and fell, so those elephants just ran over him.”
Friday’s attack is the third case of a person being killed by an elephant in Mondulkiri since September last year, although in Bunchheat’s tenure this is the first death he has seen caused by wild elephants.
In April, a male elephant named Atork killed his owner, Phnong villager Choeung Team, after he was briefly unshackled to pose for tourists.
In September, mahout Mob Sreng was attacked and killed when he and his nephew tried to recapture his elephant, named Mai.
Keo Sopheak, director of the Mondulkiri environment department, said when wild elephants came into conflict with humans, it was largely due to their habitats being destroyed, leaving them to wander.
“Sometimes, they raided villages and destroyed the villagers’ crops, and sometimes they attacked the villagers.”
He said his team is trying to educate communities how to care for domestic elephants and protect themselves against wild ones.