Superstitious villagers in Kampot province were abuzz Wednesday morning after a gaur—a massive buffalo-like animal with large horns—ran amok and left two villagers hospitalized, local officials said.
No one knew where the rare gaur came from, or what made it so angry.
“This is very strange,” said Angkor Chey district governor Yort Ya. “It heralds something unusual, maybe good or bad, so we have to get a [Buddhist] blessing for the future of our region,” he said.
The gaur appeared around 8 am Wednesday in Meanchey commune’s Tul village, where it lunged at one woman, before villagers chased it to neighboring Ponlai village in Dam Kom commune, about 500 meters away, Yort Ya said. There it knocked down an old woman who was trying to escape the rampaging beast by climbing up a ladder, and stomped on her ribs, Yort Ya said.
The gaur then charged a feeding trough for cows and broke a large stone jar before running into a local pond, where it seemed to calm down, Yort Ya said.
The beast gave local police a run for their money. “Before we had to control robbers, now we have to control a wild animal,” said Peang Pov, military police commander for Angkor Chey district.
There was much speculation about what provoked the gaur’s visit to the village. Gaurs (also called Indian bison and wild ox) can weigh several tons and usually run in herds in mountainous areas. They are known as massive but peaceful herbivores, except during mating season, when males, which can stand over 1.5 meters at the shoulder, fight each other to curry female favor.
Yort Ya said maybe the gaur had come from Noreay mountain, about 3 km away.
Chey Yuthearith, the director of Kampot’s Bokor National Park, said he did not know how the gaur had found its way to the village, which lies 70 km from the park. “It is impossible that the animal walked that far,” he said.
Nhim Vanda, who owns the Kampot zoo and serves as first vice president of the National Committee for Disaster Management, said the gaur might have come from jungle in Kampot’s Chhuk district.
“There must be some people bothering the wildlife habitat and hunting in those regions, that’s why it came out of the jungle,” he said.
After the hour-long rampage, the gaur was eventually subdued by a WildAid worker, who shot it with a tranquilizer dart, Chey Yuthearith said. Now it’s headed to Phnom Tamao zoo in Takeo province, he added.