Officials in Ratanakkiri province intervened to prevent the transport of a well-known local elephant bound for Mondolkiri province on Wednesday, because the transporters did not have a letter from the Agriculture Ministry authorizing the move.
Nos The, the governor of Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat district, said Thursday that he ordered his officials to stop the truck transporting the elephant after he received a tip from villagers in L’baing I commune, where the animal was purchased.
“After we found out they had no letter of permission from the Agriculture Ministry, I immediately ordered my official to stop them about 100 km from Mondolkiri, and the elephant is still in our district,” Mr. The said, adding that the animal had been kept near the district office overnight.
He added that if the transporters did not obtain an official authorization letter, he would place the elephant in the care of the Forestry Administration.
Mr. The said the brokers for the sale, who had been traveling ahead of the truck carrying the elephant, claimed they were on their way to Mondolkiri’s Koh Nhek district.
The elephant, a female named Kamben, is a fixture near Katieng waterfall in Lumphat, where she gives rides to tourists. Her former owner, Tak Sanak, 46, said two brokers approached him on Monday and claimed to work for a zoo in Mondolkiri that wished to purchase the elephant for conservation purposes.
“I agreed to the price of $28,500 on Monday, then over the next two days they gave me the total amount in cash, and I shared it with all my relatives,” Mr. Sanak said.
He said he sold the elephant because he did not want to spend more money on the animal, which had become difficult to control in recent years.
“I fed her for 30 years, but a few years ago, she started to destroy cassava and rubber plantations, so I have spent a lot of money already and did not want to spend more in the future,” he said.
Deputy Mondolkiri governor Yim Lux said he had no knowledge of the elephant’s sale or transport.
“I don’t know about an elephant traveling here. We have no plan to buy it and nowhere to put an elephant, because we have only nature,” Mr. Lux said.
Representatives of multiple elephant conservation parks in Mondolkiri contacted Thursday said they knew nothing about the elephant’s sale.
(Additional reporting by Taylor O’Connell)