Eight Elephants Recently Killed in Cardamoms

A fresh round of elephant slayings in the Cardamom mountain range has pushed to 41 the known number of killings in the past three years in Cambodia, con­servation officials reported. 

The figure is more than a tenth of the estimated 400 elephants re­maining in Cambodia. The elephant herds that once numbered in the thousands have been deva­stated in recent years by ivory poach­ers, meat hunters and settlers who see Asia’s largest land mammal as a threat to crops.

Conservation officials reported eight killings in the past two months in the Cardamom mountain range. Just one elephant was known to have been slaughtered in the remote mountain range in the first half of 2002.

“There’s been one of those pe­ri­odic slaughters,” said Hunter Wei­l­er, of the CAT Action Trea­sury, a US-based group that monitors and protects large animals. Weiler said the killings appeared to be unrelated. “It’s random. If peo­­ple meet an elephant they will kill it.”

At least one of the elephants was slain for its ivory tusks, be­lieved to have weighed about 3 kg, Weiler said. Two cow elephants that were lured to the dy­ing bull by his cries for help were also gunned down, Weiler said, re­ferring to reports filed by hunting monitors working for the CAT Action Treasury.

The poachers responsible for some of the latest killings are be­lieved to live in the Phnom Oral Wild­life Sanctuary, Weiler said. The sanctuary has been emptied of large animals and the poachers must leave the area and travel in­to the Cardamoms to find elephants, he said.

The Asian elephant is an en­dangered species and is protected by international and Cambo­dia law. The law has failed in al­most all cases to slow the poaching, however.

Just one elephant hunter has been arrested in connection with elephant shootings in the past three years.

The case was later dismissed by the courts, despite evidence that the man was responsible for the slaying of an elephant that had trampled a cassava plantation in Prey Nup district of Sihanoukville.


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