cambodia map_edited-1Cambodia’s wild elephants are found in two main areas, the Cardamom/Elephant Mountains and the Eastern Plains.  There are thought to be less than 600 elephants left. Due to decades of high levels of killings and wars, the Cambodian elephant is very wary of humans and it is next to impossible to see them in the wild.

Cambodia has a long and celebrated history of capturing wild elephants for domestication.  While this is now illegal, most of the remaining captive elephants are used for giving rides to tourists.

Happily, the concept of sanctuaries where elephants can rest and retire is now growing.  Since the captive elephant population is aging and not reproducing, now is the time to visit the last of Cambodia’s elephants. While you may find a few riding elephants around tourist areas or in ethnic elephant villages, we highly recommend you take the time to visit this unique sanctuary.



-Elephant Valley Project

Elephant Valley Project (EVP) is a sanctuary for overworked and abused captive elephants in Mondulkiri province (northeastern Cambodia).  Under the direction of Jack Highwood, the sanctuary is one of many initiatives under ELIE (Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment), a non-profit organization whose aims include elephant welfare, forest conservation, and local community development.

EVP’s twelve retired elephants spend their time roaming, grazing, bathing, and socializing in the project’s 650 hectares of natural forest.  This exceptional amount of land gives the rescued elephants the freedom to live as much like wild elephants as possible. EVP is also dedicated to wild elephant conservation.  Over twenty percent of annual revenues are spent on funding specialized law enforcement teams who patrol and protect nearby forests, an effort unprecedented among captive elephant establishments.

Once you make your way to Sen Monorom, EVP will pick you up from your guesthouse and transport you to the project site.  You will follow one of the family groups through the forest, observe the elephants’ natural behaviors, and learn about their individual stories.  Day, overnight, short and long-term volunteer opportunities are available.  Elemotion Foundation commends EVP for doing an exceptional job of meeting the elephants’ needs by providing a vast natural setting and keeping visitor levels low.

Read Elemotion Foundation’s interview with Jack Highwood, founder ELIE, EVP.