Environment officers said foul play is not suspected in the death of a gaur on Saturday at Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary in Oddar Meanchey province.
There was no evidence that it died from being trapped or shot. Only its skeleton remained, as found by environment officers and forest rangers during a patrol on Sunday.
However, its head and some parts of its skeleton were missing. The remaining parts of the skeleton were collected by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) office. The gaur is said to have died about two months ago.
Oddar Meanchey provincial environment department director Phuong Lina told The Post that it is the first time a gaur was found dead at the sanctuary, which is under strict conservation and protection.
Experts are investigating the reason for its death. There is no specific assumption whether it was killed or died naturally.
“We don’t know the specific reason for its death. The gaur was old as parts of its skeleton are big. Forest in this area is conserved strictly. We have many forces who take part in patrols, such as forest rangers and the WCS,” he said.
The sanctuary occupies 402,500ha of land located in Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Oddar Meanchey provinces.
This sanctuary consists of rare animals such as banteng, sambar deer, bears, elephants and gaurs. In the past, rangers reported seeing herds of gaur and individual ones in the area, Lina said.
In the past, environment officers and WCS found traps, but they were not for large wild animals like gaurs. They were mostly for trapping wild boars, he said.
In March, environment officers and WCS officials found a dead gaur that was trapped by hunters at the Southern Cardamom National Park in Veal Veng district, Pursat province.
In May, a five-year-old gaur was shot and only its head was left behind in Prey Preah Roka Wildlife Sanctuary in Preah Vihear province.
It’s estimated that about 21,000 gaurs are living in India and Southeast Asia. Gaurs are listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list (IUCN).