Sakor, a 16 year old male elephant, installed himself along Koh Kong province’s main thoroughfare, Road 48, early this year causing snarls in traffic, destroying telephone poles, and infiltrating villages and plantations. For several months plantation workers and villagers have taunted him and angry truck drivers have attempted to push him off the road. One such incident in May resulted in a wound to his front leg and as recently as August 25, his presence on the road caused two cars to collide. As the situation escalated in the spring and summer, officials worried that the elephant would be killed or people would be harmed or both. At the end of May, the provincial governor of Koh Kong requested that the Forestry Administration, with the assistance of Wildlife Alliance, remove Sakor for his safety and the safety of the people living in the area.
After two failed rescue attempts in July and early August, information arrived on Saturday, August 25th that Sakor was once again causing problems on the road. The patrol unit from Stung Proat Station – the station that has been monitoring the situation since January – was immediately dispatched to the site, where they secured an area around the elephant and fed him, keeping him calm until the rescue team could arrive.
Shortly thereafter, the rescue team, led by Forestry Administration veterinarian Nhim Thy and Wildlife Programs Director Nick Marx, arrived on scene and began the rescue process. However, after successfully tranquilizing Sakor, he ran off into the forest before the anesthetic could take effect. After tracking him down, it was determined that he was too far from the road for the truck and transport crate to reach him. They were going to need more equipment.
First, a road needed to be created through the forest with a bulldozer. After a bulldozer was found and the road smoothed, the path was still not passable as the ground was extremely wet, making it too muddy and treacherous for the truck to get through. So the team secured an excavator that could lift the transport crate into the forest where Sakor could get inside, and then lift elephant and crate together back to the main road. After four hours of slow, careful driving, the excavator emerged from the forest with the elephant in the crate.
On August 27th, the crate was lifted on to a truck and the team set off for Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, which is to be Sakor’s new home. He joins 5 other rescued Asian elephants who reside there, including Chhouk, the elephant with a prosthetic foot, whose previous rescue enclosure Sakor has now moved into. After three long days and several false starts, Sakor is now safe and thriving at Phnom Tamao under the care of Wildlife Alliance’s animal husbandry specialists and veterinarians, all of whom have been providing full time care to the rescued elephants at Phnom Tamao since 2003.
But the process does not end here. Sakor will need food, medicine, treatment and care for the long term and he will eventually need an enclosure of his own that suits his specific needs. To help Wildlife Alliance care for Sakor, make a donation today. Please visit our donation page and choose Care for Rescued Wildlife from the dropdown menu.
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