Mondolkiri: Seven wild elephants have been seen in a cluster around 100 meters behind the Keo Seima Hall in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri, according to a Facebook post from WCS.
Din Bunthoeun, deputy director of the provincial Department of Environment of Mondulkiri, says that seven elephants (including two juveniles) are searching for food and drinking water near O’Am in Sre Khtom commune, Keo Seima district, every afternoon between 5 and 6 o’clock since March 18.
The elephant come to eat banana, bamboo and small plants growing on the plots of villagers near the hall, and return to the jungle after drinking water.
Bunthoeun said that the elephants had appeared near the village three years ago, but it was the first time that they have begun to come regularly.
He concluded that elephants’ main aim is to find drinking water, because most of the water sources in their habitat have dried up in the hot season.
He added that at the end of March 26, 2019, at 5:45 pm, three elephants among seven elephants walked closer to the food business, about 30 meters behind the building.
WCS’s local staff and provincial environmental officials have closely monitored the elephant’s journey and are ready to take action if the elephants attack the villagers. Until now, the elephants have not caused any damage.
Meanwhile, an official with WCS in charge of human rights and wildlife disputes said: “Due to the population in and around the sanctuary, there are large numbers of elephants, a dispute between humans and elephants can occur. When people start clearing the land illegally, destroying the elephants’ habitat and expanding their houses and blocking the travel routed, elephants often appear close to their homes.
In 2018, there “were conflicts between elephants and people in 11 villages, causing damage to crops such as rice, cashew nuts and bananas. The elephants’ annual appearance shows that the number of animals in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary is well protected under the project of Supporting Forests and Biodiversity supported by the International Development Agency USAID from 2012 to 2016.
Currently, the sanctuary is home to about 115 Asian elephants.