A herd of 15 wild elephants living in the forest in Mondulkiri province's Sen Monorom district are eating crops and destroying property, according to villagers, who have called on the authorities and wildlife NGOs to help drive the herd away.
According to local authorities, the elephants have destroyed cassava crops and hundreds of banana, cashew, jackfruit and mango trees in his commune over the course of a few days, mostly near Andoung Kralueng village.
“They came and destroyed our crops in the night time, and in the early morning they move to the jungle,” Monorom Commune Police Chief Srev Thet said, adding that the elephants had destroyed a dozen fruit trees on his own farm, as well as a cottage and a mechanical water pump.
Khang Soeung, a biodiversity officer at the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, said he was unable to confirm the number of elephants in the herd but said he and his team are working with Wildlife Conservation Society officers to deploy motion-activated cameras in the villagers' farms close to where the elephants are staying.
The elephants moved into the area on Friday and raided the village for food several nights in a row, according to Soeung. They also came into the village Monday night but left without destroying any crops or attacking any homes, he added.
Andoung Kralueng Village Chief Phy Tel said the elephants are residing now in the forest just a few hundred metres from the village.
“Our crops will be destroyed completely and our villagers face problems in their day to day lives if the herd of wild elephants continues to stay in the area, raiding to eat our crops at night time,” he said.
Experts believe roughly 300 or more elephants live in Mondulkiri, according to Jackson Frechette, Fauna and Flora International’s flagship species manager in Cambodia.
Human encroachment on elephant territory can trigger aggression, and “human-elephant conflict is quite common globally”, Frechette said.
Additional reporting by Daphne Chen