Injured wild elephant released back to central Vietnam forest

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A wild elephant found recently with infected wounds from traps in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak was released back to the forest Wednesday after one week of treatment.

Representatives from Yok Don National Park and the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center witnessed the elephant, whose health is reportedly stable, being led to a protected forest within the park by two tame elephants and three mahouts.

Huynh Trung Luan, director of the center, told newswire Dan Tri the wounds on the elephant's right foot had dried out. Its trunk, which was severely ensnared in a trap when the young male elephant was found, is now functions normally.

"All its injuries are healing. We think the elephant should be released back to the forest rather than kept in captivity," Luan said.

Tran Van Thanh, acting director of the park, said the forest into which the elephant was released is frequently visited by wild elephants, which should ease the elephant's return to the wild.

The five-year-old elephant was first spotted in another protected forest within the park on May 7, by which time its wounds had already become infected, park rangers said.

By the time it was captured near the Serepok Border Gate (with Cambodia) one week later, the animal had shed itself of the traps and traversed dozens of kilometers.

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Its trunk had a deep gash, nearly splitting it in two; its right foot was also severely injured, with a toenail missing.

A rescuer said the elephant weighs 700 kilograms and has a pair of tusks that measure 30 centimeters each.

Upon first spotting the animal, authorities from the park and the center brought two tame elephants, four mahouts, 10 veterinarians and food to the site.

But they needed to bring in two more tame elephants to track it down and trap it. It took them around an hour to trap the elephant, which fiercely resisted having a rope thrown around its neck.

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