The Asian elephants in Mondulkiri are currently threatened by the rapid destruction of their habitat. There are only about 260 wild elephants left in Cambodia. Traditionally, elephants were domesticated and used for transportation as well as clearing small forest areas for agriculture by the Bunong people. The Bunong are the indigenous forest people in this area. With the advent of new roads and motor transport, elephants are no longer so essential for transport or heavy labour. The Bunong people are animists who believe in, and worship the spirits of the forest. The elephants are an essential part of the Bunong culture and religion. To preserve the elephants in their natural habitat is to preserve the Bunong way of life.
One possibility is to use the domesticated elephants to give rides to tourists, but here in Mondulkiri, we do not support this option, because it takes the elephants out of their natural environment and can be injurious to the elephants. Instead, we prefer to to invite tourists to come and visit the elephants in their natural habitat. You can walk with, feed, touch and swim with the elephants. It is a very enjoyable experience which will help you to learn and understand about the elephants and their way of life, as well as helping to preserve both the forest and the elephants.