An important element of our Cambodia team’s conservation work in Prey Lang forest is the installation of camera traps to monitor threatened wildlife species such as the Asian elephant. Prey Lang forest is one of the largest remaining lowland evergreen forests in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. It encompasses eight different forest habitats that are home to at least 55 threatened species, including the endangered Asian elephant. The health of the ecosystem depends on Asian elephants as a keystone species.

Photojournalist Allison Shelley documented the work of our Cambodia team on a field visit to Prey Lang. Travel to this remote area in northern Cambodia requires endurance traveling over sometimes rough terrain.

Members of our team carry field gear and motorcycles across a deep river one by one (left); Wild Earth Allies Cambodia Program Director, Tuy Sereivathana (Vathana) leads the way in another river crossing (right).

Mineral Licks

Elephants in Prey Lang find where salt and other minerals naturally occur in soil and dig these areas up. This activity makes the nutrients accessible to other animals and creates depressions called mineral or salt licks. Rain also gathers in the depressions and the mineral licks become a source of drinking water.

Left to right: Program Coordinator Neang Thy, Local Field Lead Srey Ben, Ranger Hiv Chen, and Vathana identify animal footprints at a mineral lick (left); Vathana assessing a mineral lick (right).

Protected Area Management

Our Cambodia team works closely with partners in the Ministry of the Environment to strengthen conservation management of the Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Ranger Hiv Chen accompanied the team on this field visit. Before Chen became a ranger, he volunteered with a local community group that conducts forest patrols. Chen is experienced in approaching and deescalating encounters with poachers and others involved in illegal activities in the forest.

 Ranger Hiv Chen records field observations while using a GPS to track location.

Camera Traps

Camera traps are an essential tool for ecological monitoring and research of at-risk elephant populations in Prey Lang. Our team has installed and is monitoring 30 camera traps in Prey Lang forest, collecting images of Asian elephants and other threatened wildlife species that share this ecosystem. Though the cameras are housed in sturdy metal boxes, they are sometimes damaged by curious elephants.

Our team performs maintenance on camera traps (left). Local Field Lead Srey Ben helps realign camera trap installation to maximize image collection (right).

A camera trap damaged by elephants.

Our team views newly captured camera trap footage at a field camp in Prey Lang Forest.

Our Cambodia program is led by Goldman Environmental Prize winner and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Tuy Sereivathana, who is building on 20+ years of successful community-based Asian elephant conservation.

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