Rare "raging bull' put down after violent escapade

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This gaur collapsed after being anesthetized for a second time following a lengthy chase at Phu Bai International Airport on July 24

An endangered Southeast Asian bovine suspected of killing an old woman died after being anesthetized at an airport in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on Tuesday (July 24).

According to Nguyen Viet Hoach, chief of the provincial Forest Protection Department, the gaur died after being taken out of Phu Bai International Airport following a long, inept attempt to capture it.

On Monday morning, an airport employee spotted a gaur wandering near the runway of the airport and photographed it with his mobile phone.

The animal quickly disappeared into the nearby bush.

Later that afternoon, the airport management board received information from local residents in Huong Thuy Town that the gaur was believed to have gored Nguyen Thi Thi, 85, to death.

Thi was found dead in a pool of blood on a clearing near her house at around 1:30 p.m. on Monday.

Her clothes were torn and she had many injuries on her face. Gaur hoof prints dotted the ground around her body, police said.

The search for the gaur was implemented throughout Monday night. Members of the capture team said they saw the gaur going in and out of the bush several times but they could not catch it.

More than 40 security guards, forest rangers and militiamen were mobilized to track the animal down. The following morning, authorities closed the airport to traffic in order to facilitate their efforts. A group of wildlife rescue experts from Ho Chi Minh City arrived at the airport to join the search.

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At around 2 p.m. after the gaur wandered out of the surrounding jungle, security guards darted the animal causing it to charge onto the runway and collapse.

The wildlife officials covered the unconscious animal in a net and attempted to clear the runway by reviving the creature with an injection. 

The shot reportedly caused the animal to jolt awake, break through the net and charge back into the bush.

Two hours later, the authorities darted the animal again, sending it into a coma. The unconscious gaur was then loaded into a truck and taken to a nearby wildlife rescue center.

Wildlife officials said the animal weighed roughly 1.2 tons and is a male.

At around 8 p.m. the Thua Thien-Hue Forest Protection Department told the press the gaur had died. An autopsy was conducted to determine the cause of death.

Hoach (chief of the Forest Management Department) told the press the animal died from various causes, mainly because its huge body could not adapt to captivity.

The gaur suffered water loss and exhaustion caused by stress, he said.

"The autopsy revealed bleeding in its heart and anus," he said. "Its intestines were gangrenous and a lot of small growths covered its body. That means the animal had fallen sick before running out of the wild."

Some local residents, however, suspected the official bumbling efforts to capture the animal were responsible for its death.

They said local authorities seemed confused during the search and capture of the gaur, a species listed in the Red Data Book - a list of Vietnam's rare and endangered native flora and fauna.

In Vietnam, several areas in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak were known to contain gaur in 1997. Herds continue to survive in Cat Tien National Park and adjacent state forests, but the current status of the gaur population is poorly understood.

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