Vong Sokheng and Cristina Maza
The Phnom Penh Post, Tue, 26 July 2016
A baby elephant died yesterday after being found snared in a poacher’s trap in the jungle along the border of Orang and Keo Seyma districts in Mondulkiri province.
The death of the wild elephant, thought to be about a year old, raised a red flag for many conservation groups concerned with the ability of local authorities to protect the endangered species.
“This incident again highlights the need to increase efforts to reduce snaring, as the loss of one elephant is a major loss for the globally endangered Asian elephant,” said Un Chakrey of the World Wild Life Foundation in Cambodia, who said the use of snares had only increased despite law enforcement efforts.
Local authorities tried to rescue the baby elephant after villagers reported it trapped deep in the jungle over the weekend, said Meak Vuthy, an official at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). But officials were forced to make the long journey by foot as the jungle roads were unsuitable for driving.
It’s unclear how long the elephant was caught in the trap, but it died from a severe leg injury before it could be brought to Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary for treatment.
While experts agree the snare was likely not meant to trap elephants, they say such snares are ubiquitous throughout Cambodia’s jungles and endanger all types of wildlife.
“This is the problem with snares – they will catch and kill any animal, even if the poacher does not want to catch an elephant,” said Olly Griffin, a WCS technical adviser.
In response, conservation groups are working with the government to raise awareness about the risks of poaching.
Last Thursday, the World Wildlife Fund and the Ministry of Environment published a 76-page booklet aiming to educate the public about the dangers of poaching and the need to protect wildlife. According to the Mondulkiri Project, a regional elephant sanctuary, there are about 400 elephants living in the wild in Cambodia, 250 of which are in Mondulkiri.
“The death of any young animal is tragic,” added Griffin. “But especially when populations are low, as in Cambodia.”