Three village officials have been apprehended in connection with the killing of a wild elephant in Bokor National Park, officials said.
The trio, officials from Svay village in Prey Nup district, Sihanoukville, have been behind bars in Sihanoukville since Saturday, pending trial on charges they slaughtered the elephant, officials said. They were also charged with illegal gun possession.
Eng Peo Tith, head of the Military Police task force for wildlife offenses, identified them as Sem Ren, 55, Svay village chief, and his two deputy chiefs, Nhem Nhel, 46, and Say Chhoeun, 42.
Chey Yuthearith, director of Bokor National Park, said the elephant was killed Nov 14 in Svay village while it was foraging for food. After the elephant was killed, Bokor park rangers investigated and discovered that local officials were involved, Chey Yuthearith said.
Eng Peo Tith said Tuesday the task force arrested the three poachers Nov 17 after evidence relating to the elephant’s death was found. The force confiscated three assault rifles as well as remnants of the elephant’s head and a piece of its hide, he said.
The poachers fired two shots at two elephants late in the evening of Nov 13, but the elephants escaped unharmed. The next morning, the elephants returned to scrounge for food, Eng Peo Tith said.
Seeing the elephants, Say Chhoeun then fired three shots at them. His fellow villager Chheng Lonh snatched the gun and fired three more shots. One of the elephants was killed, but the other escaped. Authorities are still looking for Chheng Lonh. The other three men have confessed, Eng Peo Tith said.
Poaching is a persistent problem in Bokor National Park. Bulldozed roads have made about 80 percent of the 140,000-hectare park accessible to loggers and poachers, according to a study funded by the European Commission.