The family of a man who was mauled to death by his tourist-toting elephant in Mondolkiri province is continuing to guard the animal in the spot where it was tranquilized as it seeks a buyer, officials said on Wednesday.
The elephant, which transported tourists around the popular Bosra waterfall in Pech Chreada district, trampled and gored its owner to death in front of onlookers on September 19. Pop Sreang, the 55-year-old mahout, had stuck a metal hook into the animal’s head in an attempt to recapture it after it had run off in pursuit of a female elephant.
The elephant was on the run for about a week before wildlife specialists from the NGO WildAid tranquilized it last week.
Pich Sotheary, chief of police in Sen Monorom district’s Romnea commune, said about 10 families— including the family of Pop Sreang—have claimed part-ownership of the elephant, and that some have demanded a hefty sum from potential buyers.
“The owners are demanding some money before handing over their elephant to a new owner as compensation,” Mr. Sotheary said. He added that he had heard that the owners were seeking $30,000 for the animal, but hadn’t spoken with the families himself.
The elephant was currently chained up in the spot where it was recaptured and was being guarded by some of its owners due to concerns among local ethnic Tompoun that it could be a bad omen in the community, he said.
“Those minorities believe in superstition and that if they take the elephant that killed a person back to their community there will be more bad luck,” he said.
Saron Ratha, deputy director of the Forestry Administration’s Mondolkiri cantonment, confirmed that relatives of the dead mahout were seeking to sell the elephant.
“I know the owner and villagers won’t let this elephant come back to the village because they have their superstitions and the family has announced it is looking for a new owner,” he said.