On the evening of September 22nd, Wildlife Alliance’s Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team (WRRT) received information that a young gaur had been snared in the forest near the small village of Ro Leark in the Chloung District in Kratie province, located northeast of Phnom Penh. The animal’s mother was hovering close by, protecting her child, but making rescue dangerous and difficult. Gaurs are the largest species of wild cattle, incredibly strong with large horns on their head, and have been known to be quite bold. However, with few options of how to handle the situation, two members of the WRRT – along with Wildlife Alliance Wildlife Programs Director Nick Marx – headed off towards Kratie first thing the next morning.
Driving fast, the three reached Kratie in less than four hours – a seemingly impossible task. They then traveled through miles of plantations and cleared forest until they arrived in Ro Leark. From there they continued by ox cart for 45 minutes until reaching the location of the young, snared gaur. Forestry Administration rangers had slept nearby the night before to protect the gaur, a 4 or 5 year old female. By that point, the mother had abandoned her. The gaur was exhausted but lucky, as the snare had not tightened completely around her leg. She was lying down, with a few small injuries caused by her struggle to escape, but the snared limbed was uninjured and she needed little medical care. After removing the snare from her leg and helping her to sit up, Nick offered her water and she drank, slowly regaining her strength. Over the course of several hours, Nick continued to provide water, grass and cassava leaves. She ate very little, but began to forage on the forest leaves around her. She began to be troubled by the prolonged human presence and seeing as she had regained her strength and mobility, the team felt comfortable leaving her there and returned the village.
Upon return to Ro Leark, guards were found who were willing to monitor the gaur in the forest overnight and Forestry Administration officials in the village also agreed to ensure the animal’s continued safety. The team from Wildlife Alliance stayed in the village overnight in case there were any further issues. By the next morning, the team received information that the gaur had disappeared into the forest and so with a successful rescue completed, the team returned to Phnom Penh.