Cambodia is experiencing a high deforestation rate, which puts the local ecosystems at risk. Mondulkiri province is rich in biodiversity and is home to a variety of important endangered species. A local NGO, L.E.A.F. (Local Environmental Awareness Foundation), has been created in 2014 by Cambodian volunteers from Mondulkiri. Its goal is to support and to improve environmental education and conservation among local communities.
One of their main source of funding comes from a great ecotourism project: The Mondulkiri elephant & wildlife Sanctuary, located 20 minutes outside Sen Monorom. There, neighbouring Bunong communities can bring their ex-working elephants to a natural corridor to give them a happy retirement. Because each elephant is co-owned by multiple village families, the whole community receives money. It encourages them to free working elephants from work in logging & commercial tourist rides, receiving monthly family support which helps to provide for, and educate their family.
Going on a one-day tour within the Mondulkiri Sanctuary is an unforgettable experience! (I have done it and I really recommend it!) Here is the program:
- A nice walk inside the Mondulkiri Sanctuary, made of beautiful rainforest and indigenous farms. This is the beginning of the project and a lot of new fruit trees are growing, organically, to restore the ecosystem. Besides, the guide has so many interesting things to teach you about the Bunong traditional way of life !
- First encounter with the elephants. Freely, they come towards you under the supervision of the mahout (they are domesticated elephants), and you get to feed them with bananas. It's so impressive to walk next to those gentle giants for a while, enjoying their freedom in their natural habitat.
- Lunchtime next to the river, for a fresh swim while the guide do the cooks in a traditional Bunong way – so good!
- And then, jump in the water with the elephants to help with the daily cleaning session. They like it!
This tour is a really good way of helping Asian elephants and other wildlife, while supporting local conservation and local Bunong communities.
If you're looking for a fully ethical Mondulkiri experience, give it a chance, the LEAF team has a great amount of new project development: currently building a wildlife rescue center, with a rehabilitation program for captive gibbons & other wildlife, developing renewable energy systems, environmental education program & more.
>>> Tours can be booked on the NGO official website : Mondulkiri Sanctuary
It is also possible to arrange L.E.A.F tours at the NGO office and at Nature Lodge.
Please do your research before choosing which elephant sanctuary to visit in Sen Monorom.
The elephants at the Mondulkiri Elephant and Wildlife Centre are only rented on a day to day basis.
This means that you cannot be sure how well they are looked after.
The Elephant Valley Project and the Mondulkiri Project have full time elephants living at their sanctuaries. This guarantees they are never used for elephant rides or for heavy farm work.
Images from the Mondulkiri Elephant and Wildlife Centre's facebook page also show customers playing with baby monkeys. I don't think this is a good way to rehabilitate wildlife.
#3 Lisa2014 has been a member since 26/9/2014. Posts: 9
I highly agree. Do your research, but trust me I volunteered at the Monulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary for a week, and the Elephants aren't on a daily base at the sanctuary.
They can life freely in the forest with there mahouts and don't need to work anymore. They just enjoy to be an elephant!
We also went to the Elephant Valley Project and they have some elephants just on a contract base, so they are there for up to 10 years and then need to work again.
And they just buy the Monkeys off the villagers wait until they are fully grown up and then release them to the wild, not much rehabilitation needed. In our time no one played with monkeys.
I really enjoyed my time there and would highly recommend there programm either for volunteering or just for a tour.
#4 Sleeplessprodigy has been a member since 14/12/2016. Posts: 1
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