Niem Chheng, The Phnom Penh Post
Thu, 23 March 2017
A wild elephant was electrocuted when it leaned against a power pole yesterday in Preah Sihanouk, triggering a black out in the area.
The male pachyderm, one of only five believed left in an area taken over by farming, died with burns to its feet, thigh and head in the village of Stung Chral in Kampong Seila’s O’Bakrotes commune.
“It leaned its body against the electricity pole . . . causing the pole to fall,” said Kong Kimsreng, director of Natural Protected Area in the southern part of the Tonle Sap lake.
“It might have been angry because the area was a jungle in the past, but later the people transformed the area into farms.”
The carcass will be transported to and buried at Tamao Mountain. It was possible the bones be used for study or an exhibition, he said.
“We will arrange a ritual that can be a message for the people and youths to understand about the importance of wild animals to make them love wild animals,” Kimsreng said.
Commune police chief Iet Virak determined the time of death – midnight – by the blackout that occurred at that time. He said villagers had reported that five elephants were left in the region and that the one that died was the largest male.
It’s not the first time an elephant has knocked over a an electricity pole nearby.
“The elephants usually pass by the area. Last year, an elephant leaned his body against electricity poles and four poles fell,” Virak said
Electricity workers had built fences around those about a kilometre from the latest incident and officials would look again at measures to protect the poles – and the elephants.
Nick Marx, director of wildlife rescue and care for NGO Wildlife Alliance, said preserving forests was key to save animals.
“As people intrude into the forest, and cut them down, obviously animals that live there will move on, [and] will come in contact with humans,” he said.
“It’s extremely difficult once elephants realise that humans grow tasty foods in their farms,” he said. “It’s better if they never know.”
Additional reporting by Leonie Kijewski