Chhouk is a five-year-old elephant that was found in the jungles of Cambodia in 2007, alone and with a wounded foot due to traps set by poachers.
After he was found, the elephant was fed and cared after by Nick Marx, the director of Wildlife Rescue and Care at the Wildlife Alliance, a conservation group in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Until his wounds healed, Marx chose to stay with him in the jungle, to ensure that his condition will improve.
“I stayed with him, slept beside him, hand-fed him everything he ate,” Marx says.
“I really thought he would never make it,” he adds. “He was seriously injured. He was extremely young, emaciated and very, very sick.”
Marx got the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics to build a prosthetics for Chhouk.
“It’s changed his life,” he says. “From being a tired little chap who slept a lot when he went on his walks, he’s now lively and energetic. He never stops.”
As for Chhouk’s predators, Marx says the illegal wildlife trade and widespread animal suffering and death are one of the biggest illicit enterprises on the planet, estimated to generate between $5 billion and $20 billion per year, with Asia being the biggest marketplace.
Elephants are targeted for their ivory tusks which can bring millions of dollars but leaves the species on the verge of extinction, according to the Worldwide Wildlife Federation.