Rangers from the Ratanakkiri provincial Department of Environment and O’Yadav district Unity Command joined forces on January 4 to teach farmers from Bakham, Paknhai and Yatung communes how to protect their plantations from the threat of wild elephants.
O’Yadav district deputy governor Sim Lin told The Post on January 4 that 15 wild elephants, including two ferocious males, came in two herds and destroyed crops and 22 plantation huts in the three communes on December 30.
“According to the farmers, the elephants appeared, destroyed the crops at night and went down the streams in the next day heading back into the forest,” Lin said.
He said the plantation owners were very angry with the elephants, but they did not use force on them to avoid breaking the law.
Provincial environment department director Phon Khemrin told The Post on January 3 that the plantations used to be the habitat of wild elephants as they were rich with their food.
The area has valleys and streams they can drink from and play with water. But people have occupied the land, formed small villages on it and plant crops. This has led to conflicts between the villagers and the elephants.
“We are teaching the villagers about peaceful ways to chase out the elephants. It will ensure villagers do not respond violently to the wild animals that could lead to danger and actions that violate the law,” said Khemrin.
He said the villagers were asked to patrol the plantations more frequently day and night, and to create noise by hitting plastic tanks or bamboos to drive the elephants away.
Yatung commune police chief Sen Voeun told The Post that the people, police and rangers are working together to help villagers monitor and chase the elephants away from plantations and villages.
The plan is to drive the wild elephants across to the other side of the Trang stream, which has a large dense forest.
“We cannot catch or shoot the elephants, but we cannot let them destroy the plantations either. So the tips given by expert officials are very useful,” he said.
Currently, Cambodia has about 400 to 600 Asian wild elephants living in Mondulkiri and Ratanakkiri provinces, as well as the Cardamom mountains and other sanctuaries.