December 27, 2010

Wildlife Rescuers Take Murderous Elephant Into Custody

Wildlife rescue authorities have taken into custody an enraged bull elephant that killed its owner and went on a 10-day rampage in the Cambodian countryside.

The bull elephant terrorized villagers in the southwestern province of Kampong Speu and destroyed their crops before he was subdued by wildlife workers on December 15.

The animal was confined to a rice field for over a week while a special cage was built to transport him to the Phnom Tamao rescue center on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital.

Sambo, which is the elephant's name, arrived at the center on Saturday evening as a late Christmas present for the animal sanctuary.

"He has been placed in a temporary enclosure for the time being," said communications officer John Maloy from the Wildlife Alliance, adding that Sambo was being kept away from the zoo's five other Asian elephants.

"Sambo is probably too dangerous to mix with them at present," he told AFP.

The Wildlife Alliance said that Sambo is in musth, which is a periodic condition in bull elephants that is often accompanied by highly aggressive behavior.

His handlers believe that he will eventually calm down and find a mate at the rescue center.

According to Jack Highwood, who heads the Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment, Cambodia is home to about 120 domesticated elephants.

Highwood told AFP that he estimates about six people have been killed by elephants in Cambodia in the last three years, including four of which were believed to have been killed by Sambo. 

The Asia elephant is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).