Recently, a 60-year-old bull elephant named Atork was unshackled by his owner at the insistence of tourists who wanted to take a photo with the large land mammal. His caretaker, 47-year-old Choeung Team, eventually obliged. Shortly after, Atork began wandering away into the Cambodian jungle, likely in pursuit of freedom.
Because elephants are seen as property and a source of income in many Asian countries, Team chased after the male elephant to try and re-capture him. When he didn’t return hours later, villagers set out to find the guide. That’s when his trampled body was discovered and Atork was blamed for the incident.
Team’s nephew, Saroeun Naro, insists Atork used his trunk to beat and trample his uncle. Because the elephant could possibly pose a risk to other villagers, police officers set out to find the elephant and kill him. According to Daily Mail, the police succeeded when they opened fire on Atork with AK-47 weapons and waited two hours for him to die.
Reportedly, the bull elephant’s female mate, Me Krapum, escaped with him when they were both unshackled. Eyewitnesses say Me Krapum wept as Atork lay on the ground dying from mortal injuries. The elephant suffered wounds to the head, heart and leg.
Police said they feared Atork would kill again, which is why they did not wait for wildlife experts to arrive from the nearby Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre when they discovered his location. His presence was deemed dangerous, as he went on a “rampage,” chasing people, destroying six homes and even damaging a police van.
The final decision to kill the bull elephant came from Provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang. Police chief of the local area, Pech Sotheary, told the press:
“We did not want to kill it, but we had no choice. It troubled the villagers at night and was not afraid of our warning shots.”
Regarding Atork’s mate, Me Krapu, she was taken home. Her handler, Thing Saom, commented:
“She stood near Atork when he was killed and tears kept falling down. Me and my relatives decided to take her home since we were afraid she might become fierce, like Atork.”
Team’s family was allowed to keep Atork’s tusks, and he and the elephant were buried next to each other, report the locals. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!