Our ecotourism program contributions help cover the feeding costs & veterinary care costs as well as provide supportive income for the indigenous families who owned the elephants & agreed to release them from work to retire at the sanctuary.
The Elephants are kept as close as possible to life in natural environment: As ex-working elephants, it is the first time they are allowed to roam free & unchained, enjoying unlimited grazing time, dusting, herd socializing and elephant play time. The sanctuary’s elephant habitat includes everything that wild elephants love: Bamboo & rainforest, grasslands, several natural pools and mud bathing areas. We also have a special plantation, where we grow elephant feed for the dry season.
We have no fences. The elephants can roam throughout the entire sanctuary area. Each elephant has an individual carer that provides the daily grooming & makes sure they stay within the safe zone.
Some of the elephants receive treatment for chronic conditions and injuries caused by years of hard work in the logging & tourism industry.
Our elephants come from the nearby Bunong communities of Putru, Oraing and Patang. They are co-owned by many of the village families. The villagers used to work the elephants in order to generate income. They were used in logging, pulling timber out of the jungles, carrying rice and resin from remote forest farms and giving tourist rides. The work is often hard and dangerous, both for the elephants and their human mahouts. Several elephants and mahouts were killed and injured in working accidents.
As tourism developed, Mondulkiri’s elephants began giving tourist rides and many were sold to private companies and transferred to work in Siam Reap. By 2016, only a fraction of Mondulkiri’s community elephants have survived.
The sanctuary’s retired elephant herd receive daily care, grooming & veterinary check-ups.
By joining the L.E.A.F community project, keepers and families receive regular income from the project that allows them to support and educate their families – They no longer have to risk themselves working the animals in logging or giving rides.
The elephants gain an amazing new life, chains free for the first time: they are allowed to eat constantly, roam and socialize, simply enjoying elephant life at the safe & natural sanctuary elephant habitat.
The sanctuary elephants receive gentle daily care, grooming & veterinary check-ups.
Chellot Comes from the Bunong community of Putru. Shes is 48 years old and had been a working elephant since her capture from the wild in forest of O’riang.
She is has lovely, super cute round features. As well as a super gentle & affectionate character, both with other elephants as well as with humans. Following many years of hard work, she had developed a permanent limp. Her families love her and wanted to give her a better life at the sanctuary since October 2014.
Comes from the Bunong community of Putru, lives at the sanctuary since November 10th, 2014. Shes is estimated to be at least 56 years old and her age shows. She had been a working elephant throughout her life. She joined the sanctuary after suffering from a hip inflammation that made walking painful difficult. She will never be able to work. Her chronic pain, turned her secluded and reserved. Following 2 years of rest and vigorous feeding, she’s feeling much happier, she gained 260 kg and walks at ease again. She receives wild turmeric, with is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory.
Our new herd addition, a beautiful & gentle 37 year old little lady from the Bunong community of O’raing. Initially arrived at the sanctuary with a serious leg abscess caused by a sneak bite and was dangerously underweight. We persuaded her owner to let her retire & join the sanctuary herd. Following her initial treatment - She is slowly healing, gaining weight & well adjusting to freedom.
PON & STUED
Stud & Pon are 2 working elephants from Oraing village who were receiving treatment & rest at the sanctuary on a part time plan and we're so happy as now finally joined our herd full time !
Seeing 6 elephants roaming freely throughout the sanctuary forests & hills is literally big time fun!
Bamboo, bananas and young grass shoots are their all times favorite foods.
Millet is working elephants from Putang village who receives treatment & rest at the sanctuary on a part time plan. We hoping tto be able to take her on permanently in the near future.
How you can help Mondulkiri’s elephants:
Our rescue team had been negotiating and assisting additional families of working elephants in Mondulkiri.
We’re completely dependent on visitors for funding - Please help us by coming to visit the sanctuary & helping to spread the word of the of our ethical elephant ecotourism program in Mondulkiri.
We are currently fundraising in order to build a wildlife treatment clinic that will serve Mondulkiri’s elephant population, donations, big or small are most helpful.
Creating a future for Bunong elephant keeping tradition in Mondulkiri:
Asian Elephant are becoming critically endangered. We want to work with the local communities in order to free as many remaining working elephants as possible, to give them a better life as well as secure the future for the species within our established sanctuary.
Elephants are extremely intelligent, sociable animals. They are very attached to their human families. Being ‘sold’ or changing hands often causes separation anxiety, depression and anorexia.
Unlike other sanctuaries, we do not separate the elephants from their own family & familiar mahouts nor we give them English names like “princess” or “lucky”. Our elephants have names & feel proud to keep their original Bunong names.
Our goal is to keep the Bunong families that joint our project – fully involved & maintain the family bond, let them keep caring for their own elephants without having to work their elephants.
In order to create a future – The family, especially the children, need to overcome old taboos while keeping the old wisdom & learn some new, humane methods of elephant care & training, progressing into a new, more natural & positive elephant tourism.
The elephant’s human families are so far thrilled to see the elephant’s improved health & condition. The young family mahouts receive additional training in basic veterinary care and an opportunity to learn English.
In traditional Bunong culture, domestic elephan breeding is considered a taboo with supportive professional training. We are working to find a way for them to overcome this restriction - In order to allow a new generation elephants in Mondulkiri.
Bunong woman with her family elephant.