Police are on the lookout for an elephant that trampled its owner to death in Mondolkiri province on Monday when he attempted to recapture it about a week after it escaped, according to officials.
The elephant—trained to transport tourists near the Bosra waterfall in Pech Chreada district—disappeared into the forest in pursuit of a female elephant about a week ago, according to Pich Sotheary, chief of police in Sen Monorom’s Romnea commune, where the animal lived.
When its owner and mahout, Pop Sreang, 55, found the elephant in the Pech Chreada’s Sre Ampoum commune at about noon and attempted to recapture it, the elephant became angry, Mr. Sotheary said.
With about 15 police officers, family members and tourists looking on, Mr. Sreang slung himself on the animal’s back and stuck a metal hook in its head to command it to begin walking, said district governor Nuon Saron.
“The rampaging elephant attacked the owner with his tusks and threw the owner into the sky and onto the ground,” Mr. Saron said. Then the elephant “stabbed with his tusks and trampled him to death.”
“It looked like a movie,” he added.
The crowd shouted at the elephant in the hope of scaring it off, but was unsuccessful, said Sre Ampoum commune police chief Ra Borith.
“We could not help the victim at all…because we didn’t have a gun to shoot and scare it,” he said.
When it became clear that there was no hope for Pop Sreang, the group fled from the animal in fear, Mr. Borith added. After giving chase for about 100 meters, the animal disappeared into the forest, he said.
Police have since been patrolling the roads near the waterfall to warn villagers and tourists to stay clear, he added, but had not spotted the elephant as of Monday evening.
Provincial police chief Touch Yun said officials were armed with tranquilizer guns to sedate the elephant if they found it.