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An aggressive bull elephant that fatally trampled its owner was shot to death on Friday after it smashed six houses and frightened villagers after tromping out of the Mondolkiri province forest into which it had fled earlier this week, officials said.
The elephant, Toak, had charged out of the forest on Thursday afternoon, “but we managed to scare him back into the forest using fireworks,” Jemma Bullock, program manager for the Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment, which sought to help the villagers, said on Friday.
A bull elephant flees into the forest shortly after it trampled its mahout to death in Mondolkiri province on Wednesday. (Mondolkiri Provincial Police)
Overnight, while authorities were waiting for a team of veterinarians with tranquilizer guns to arrive from Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center “the elephant came out of the forest again and returned to the village. He was really aggressive and clearly still in the signs of musth,” or mating behavior, she said.
After its death, the elephant’s owners removed its valuable ivory tusk, fearing others might try to take it, she said. Photographs later surfaced on local media, leading readers to fear the animal had been hacked to death, but this was not the case, she said.
“He smashed down six houses and was completely uncontrollable,” she said. “Police and a fire truck came to help, and were firing warning shots and trying to scare him back to the forest. But when he kept attacking the house one police officer fired on his leg to stop him.”
The elephant went down about 1 a.m. and died an hour later, she said.
Kan Peng, police chief of Sen Monorom City, confirmed the death, saying it was necessary because the elephant had “killed a human and destroyed property” and the rescuers were taking too long to respond. He said the elephant was buried.
The saga began on Wednesday when the elephant, out for a walk with tourists, attacked and trampled his mahout, or handler, 45-year-old Choeung Tieng, near Katang village in Sen Monorom City’s Romnea commune. The incident was attributed to the elephant being denied an opportunity to mate during the rutting season.
After the attack, the elephant had run into the forest with a female elephant. “The female was recaptured by her owners Fridaymorning,” Ms. Bullock said.