A tourist-toting elephant that trampled its owner to death on Monday was tranquilized and recaptured in Mondolkiri province on Wednesday, authorities said.
The elephant, which ferried visitors around the popular Bosra waterfall in Pech Chreada district, went missing about a week ago in pursuit of a female elephant. On Monday, it trampled, gored and killed its owner and mahout, Pop Sreang, 55, after he stuck a metal hook into the animal’s head in an attempt to recapture it.
An ethnic Bunong man rides an elephant in a village near Sen Monorom City in 2015 (Aria Danaparamita/The Cambodia Daily)
The elephant “stabbed with his tusks and trampled him to death,” district governor Nuon Saron said at the time. “It looked like a movie.”
The elephant disappeared into the forest shortly after the attack. Authorities patrolling near the waterfall—warning tourists and locals of the agitated animal—stumbled across it at about 9 a.m. on Wednesday, said Vong Sokserey, chief of the Forestry Administration’s Mondolkiri cantonment.
A Forestry Administration official and wildlife specialists from the NGO WildAid then arrived to tranquilize the elephant, he said.
“This elephant has been a menace to villagers and travelers since he began his rampage, so to maintain security for the people, we used a tranquilizer gun to shoot and recapture him,” Mr. Sokserey said.
“An expert shot the rampaging elephant with a tranquilizer when it followed a female elephant across the road to the Bosra waterfall,” he said.
The elephant promptly collapsed and will be held in chains at its point of capture until his surviving owners, Pop Sreang’s wife and relatives, decided whether they want to keep it, Mr. Sokserey said.
“If they decide to take the elephant back, we will hand it over to its owners and the local elephant association to take care of it,” he said.
District police chief Sao Sovannarith said the owners would feed the elephant until it regained its strength. If the owners decline to keep the elephant, he said, the Forestry Administration would assume ownership.
Pop Sreang’s family could not be reached for comment.