Vietnam's legendary mahout, distiller Ama Kong dies at 103

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Legendary mahout Ama Kong died Saturday at his home in Dak Lak Province in the Central Highlands. He was 103.

He died of "old age and weakness," a local official said.

Ama Kong, real name Y Prong Eban, was a M'nong ethnic who became famous for capturing 298 wild elephants with just a rope, and for taming the giant animals.

He tamed his first elephant at just 13, and made a career out of training the animals for labor.

He stopped trapping elephants in 1996 when a ban was imposed on it.

He is survived by four wives, 21 children, and nearly 200 grandchildren.

President Ho Chi Minh conferred on him the Order of Merit, 1st Class, for transporting goods and arms on his elephants for the revolutionary forces during the war.

Ama Kong was also famous for a secret medicinal alcohol he made from herbs that is believed to improve male virility.

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His family said the funeral would be held for four days at his century-old house at Don village in Buon Don District, which has become a popular tourist destination.

It would be closed to tourists during the four days, the family added.

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