Asian Elephants

Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest is one of the largest remaining lowland evergreen forests in the Indo-Burma region and home to over 55 threatened wildlife species, including Asian elephants.

Our Cambodia program is led by Goldman Environmental Prize winner and National Geographic Explorer Tuy Sereivathana (Vathana), who is building on 20+ years of successful community-based Asian elephant conservation. Vathana’s holistic approach combines ecological monitoring and research of key elephant populations; improving habitat management; reducing human-elephant conflicts and improving livelihoods in rural communities who share land with elephants and other important wildlife. Vathana has built a strong team which includes Program Manager, Neang Thy, an experienced field biologist in the forests of southeast Asia, who focuses on research and biodiversity monitoring.

Prey Lang Forest is one of the largest remaining lowland evergreen forests in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot, encompassing eight different forest habitats that are home to at least 55 threatened species, including Asian elephants, a keystone species upon which the health of the ecosystem depends. During the last decade, Prey Lang forest has undergone habitat degradation and biodiversity loss due to unsustainable forest management.  This destruction and encroachment on the forest is also of great concern to indigenous Kuy people living in Prey Lang, who for centuries have sustainably relied on the forest’s natural resources for their livelihoods.

We are implementing targeted actions so that Asian elephants and other threatened wildlife species flourish in Prey Lang while this important ecosystem sustains traditional livelihoods and regional prosperity. Actions include elephant monitoring, research and protection; forest habitat protection; conservation education and awareness raising; and protected area management.

Asian elephants are keystone species that play an important role in threatened ecosystems.

Wildlife Monitoring in Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary

A key element of our Cambodia team’s conservation work is the installation and monitoring of camera traps in the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Dozens of species have been captured on camera, including six species identified by the IUCN Red List as threatened: Asian elephant (Endangered), gaur (Vulnerable), sun bear (Vulnerable), binturong (Vulnerable), smooth coated otter (Vulnerable), and silvered langur (Endangered).

These rare images were captured in remote areas of Prey Lang Forest in challenging terrain. The result is a snapshot of the incredible diversity of species that make their home in the lowland evergreen forest:

Partnering for Asian Elephant Conservation

The indigenous Kuy community of northern Cambodia have long served as environmental stewards in and around Prey Lang Forest. Many Kuy have deep knowledge of forest ecology, and are key conservation partners. The Kuy village of Siem Bouk sits on the edge of Prey Lang and together we organize conservation and wildlife education programs for local children, sharing what we are learning inside the forest and helping to foster the next conservation generation.

View images from Prey Lang Forest and Siem Bouk village by photojournalist Allison Shelley: