Tourists visiting eastern Cambodia who wanted better pictures of a 60-year-old elephant and begged the handler to unchain the animal, watched as police opened fire on Atork the elephant after he trampled his owner to death before going on a rampage. According to the Daily Mail, the elephant named suffered for two hours before he died after police shot him three times.
Witnesses reported Atork and his female mate Me Krapum had been released from their shackles when tourists wanted to get better photos of the elephants, but soon after, the owner of the male elephant, Choeung Team, 47, was found dead as Atork went on a rampage – destroying several homes and damaging a police vehicle. Authorities wouldn’t wait for wildlife experts from the nearby Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to arrive to tranquilize the elephant- stating they were afraid lives were in danger.
It is not known why tranquilizers were not available locally to be used on Atork, however it has been reported fireworks and a water cannon were used to scare him, but none of that worked. And when the police fired with AK-47 rifles at Atork; hitting him in the head, heart and leg, the huge animal fell to the ground. Me Krapum’s handler told news media that tears ran down the female elephant’s face as she watched her beloved mate slowly die in agony. Her handler quickly took her away – in fear she would become fierce over her mate’s death.
Atork was the family’s “money tree”; just another tragic lesson keeping animals cruelly shackled. The handler’s widow was allowed to keep Atork’s tusks, but the family is liable for the damage. Atork and Choeung were buried near each other. It is not known exactly why Atork became so violent, but when male elephants are in musth (surge of hormones in male elephants for mating) they can become very aggressive. Then there is also the incredible intelligence of elephants who “never forget.” Asian training techniques often involve “breaking the will” approach to baby elephants where their movements are restricted and they are beaten into submission. It is unknown what makes an elephant “snap” later in life.
Rest in peace Atork. We are sorry humans abused you for giving tourists rides and performing in shows; just another disturbing reminder of animal cruelty in other forms.
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(Photo and video via World News)
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