Elephants have been so instrumental in the history of Cambodia that they are frequently depicted in folklore and temple iconography. King Rajendravarman II appeared to have a particular elephant fetish, gracing his temples with numerous, beautiful elephant sculptures and carvings, many of which can be found at his ancestral temple, the East Mebon.
Kulen Elephant Forest
The elephants at the Kulen Elephant Forest have spent most of their lives working in the tourism industry and are now enjoying a long-awaited and well-deserved retirement in the forest near Angkor’s Kulen Mountain. There, they can finally roam free and unburdened, rediscovering relationships and natural foods they haven’t eaten in years while receiving the best of care. Kulen Elephant Forest’s mission is to provide these elephants with a happy and comfortable retirement while offering a fun, educational approach to elephant conservation that contributes as much as possible to preserving the remaining elephants of Cambodia.
Wild Elephants in Cambodia
The temples of Angkor could not have been built without the help of elephants, nor could the Khmer have win their wars without them. Elephants have long been an integral part of life in Cambodia: until recently. The modern era has been difficult for Cambodia’s remaining elephant populations. While some elephants have found work in tourism, not all such programs have the intention or expertise to care for elephants properly.
What few remaining wild elephants exist in Cambodia, live deep in the Damrei Mountains (Elephant Mountains). Encompassing a wide swath of land from the Cardamom Mountains to the north and east of Koh Kong to the Damrei Mountains, the South West Elephant Corridor was established to protect one of the few remaining elephant migratory channels in Southeast Asia. The corridor includes the towering and remote mountain of Phnom Aoral, as well as Kirirom and Phnom Bokor National Parks.