On December 8th we told you about Sambo, an Asian bull elephant that escaped captivity and turned violent. Since then Wildlife Alliance has been forging ahead to subdue, rescue and prepare a new home for the elephant before he was injured or harmed anyone else.
I wanted to give you a quick update on our progress and send a thank you to everyone who has recently donated toward our Help Save Victimized Cambodian Wildlife program.
Earlier this month Sambo killed his owner and then fled into the forest, only to return to devour rice from fields that were nearly ready for harvesting. His proximity to the village and the threat to crops put him on a collision course with terrified local residents.
Action was taken last week to prevent further harm in the tense situation when Wildlife Alliance and the Elephants Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE) assisted the Cambodian Forestry Administration in subduing the elephant. Sambo has been calmed and is now confined to a rice field until arrangements can be made to transport him to a more permanent home.
For the last week, elephant keepers from ELIE have been working to keep Sambo calm until he is moved to the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. Located outside the capital of Phnom Penh, Phnom Tamao is home to hundreds of wild animals rescued from the wildlife trade or too domesticated to release into the wild. The government-run center, which receives support from Wildlife Alliance, is already home to five Asian elephants.
In preparation for that move, a firm in Phnom Penh is constructing a large steel cage that will be used to transport Sambo by truck from his current location to Phnom Tamao. Crews are already busy reinforcing the barriers of an elephant enclosure at the rescue center that will serve as Sambo’s home.
This week’s transport operation may prove to be a tricky one depending on how cooperative Sambo is.
Sambo is currently in musth—a periodic condition in bull elephants that is often accompanied by highly aggressive behavior. Musth periods are not well understood, but it is hoped that when Sambo comes through the other end of this cycle that he will be a far more docile creature.
Wildlife Alliance’s Care for Rescued Wildlife manager Nick Marx is overseeing Sambo’s move to his future home:
“We will walk him into the cage if we can and then lift the cage onto the truck,” Nick said. “But if we cannot do this then we will have to sedate him and lift him into the cage—this is what I’m worried about.”
At Phnom Tamao, it is hoped that Sambo’s proximity to the other elephants will have a calming effect.
With a new home just in time for the New Year, we are hopeful he will begin 2011 happily under Wildlife Alliance’s care.
We will make sure to keep you up to date on the developments with Sambo as he makes his move and adjusts to life at Phnom Tamao. In the meantime though please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and keep an eye on our blog for timely information regarding this and other critical events.
Thank you again for your much needed support. We at Wildlife Alliance wish you the best for the Holiday Season and the New Year.