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Rare gaur dies during rescue operation

A rare gaur that was accidentally killed by a conservation team in Preah Sihanouk province.
A rare gaur that was accidentally killed by a conservation team. Photo supplied

Rare gaur dies during rescue operation

A rare gaur that gored a teenage boy last month in Preah Sihanouk province drowned Friday night after it was tranquilised during a failed rescue operation.

The conservation team from Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center shot the animal with tranquiliser darts on Friday evening after responding to requests from authorities in Prey Nop district’s Teuk Thla commune, said Pin Lyvon, deputy director of the centre.

The endangered animal then ran one kilometre into the forest, with the conservation team in pursuit. Because of the uneven terrain, and threat of injury from the gaur, authorities were unable to catch the drugged animal before it fell into a reservoir in Bokor National Park in Kampot province and drowned, Lyvon said.

“We are very sorry that when we tried to help, we could not save it,” he said. The gaur was transported to the wildlife centre for burial on Saturday morning, Lyvon said.

The gaur had visited Teuk Thla commune at least twice before, and nearly killed a teenage boy last month. Nick Marx, director of the centre, said he wished the gaur had been saved, but the first concern was to mitigate the threat of a wild animal that he described as “more dangerous than a tiger”.

He expects similar run-ins between humans and wildlife to rise due to pressure from hunting snares and deforestation, which is threatening habitats.

“The forest is going, so the wild have to go somewhere, and they come into contact with people,” he said.

Ke Pha, Preah Sihanouk provincial head of agriculture, said he regretted the death of a rare animal, but he did not blame wildlife officials for the incident. “The geographical location is difficult with dense forests and a water reservoir up on the mountain, and the route on the mountain is not smooth and easy to travel as well,” he said. “Therefore, it is hard for us to blame them and we do not want to do that, but we regret it.”

Additional reporting by Danielle Keeton-Olsen

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