Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary, Sen Monorom

4.3
#4 of 15 in Things to do in Sen Monorom
The Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife Sanctuary is a nonprofit wildlife conservation & ecotourism project, developed by L.E.A.F Cambodia, in cooperation with the local Indigenous Bunong communities in Mondulkiri. The sanctuary's local forest & wildlife conservation programs have 4 main goals:

1: To protect the area's beautiful community forests from logging and development. Benefit & improve the lives of poor communities and to preserve the special culture of the Indigenous Bunong community

2: To rescue & provide sanctuary for local working elephants currently used for tourist rides, logging and heavy farm work.

3:To develop a facility for the rescue and reintroduction of trafficked & captive wildlife

4:To promote and demonstrate sustainable ecotourism, educate locals about long term conservation benefits & develop a passion for helping wild animals among Mondulkiri's youth.

By developing an ethical elephant ecotourism program, the project provides an alternative, sustainable means of income for the village families - the sustainable income reduces the financial need for logging & hunting. It also creates additional jobs, opportunities, and the chance to learn English.

Elephants at the sanctuary can live free from work, nor are they subjected to the harmful practices and risks they faced while ‘employed’ in logging or tourist ride camps.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
152 reviews
Google
4.0
TripAdvisor
  • August 8, 2017
    I had the most incredible experience with this group, where it was well organized, the group leader spoke perfect English and had a great sense of humour, and the elephants roamed free and were able t...  more »
  • August 7, 2017
    We feel that everything is not perfect, but little by little this will become a great place. We had a great time in the company of our guides and elephants. The work they do and the energy expended is truly amazing. To do!
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  • August 3, 2017
    We came to Mondulkiri because knew the project and has not let us down. After two days living with them we had very good experiences. We were unable to eat two elephants, remain impressed with these animals and learn many things about his former life and the improvements that have been achieved with them. Also during trekking we have been able to enjoy spectacular landscapes, some impressive waterfalls, in which we have been able to bathing, have seen rice fields and fruit trees... People have been very friendly and nice and we could sleep in authentic cabin bunong and share their food. Without a doubt, a recommendable experience.
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  • May 11, 2017
    Amazing experience and ethical treatment of the animals! I am so glad we chose L.E.A.F project - the whole experience was a highlight of our Southeast Asia trip. No unethical treatment of the elephants - they just roam around freely, follow your sugarcane stick and overall are curious as long as you hold that cugarcane stick in your hands :)) We saw 3 elephants all together. The guide was extra knowledgeable and helpful. Nice walk through the fields, loads of information and loads of time with elephants. Just don't wear your light coloured clothes - red mud is extra hard to wash off. For those who say that elephant owners are "rude" with elephants - you can't talk in a playful "mummy" voice with any animal (dog trainers understand that!) and hope they'll pay attention. Nature follows Alpha leaders only. The little man has to sound harsh to appear strong, big, serious and restpectful. But no sticks or beating or threatening and no other abusive actions were carried out. Respect to the whole crew for a great job!
  • June 29, 2017
    I was unsatisfied. All items we did. But elephants came so late to bathing, guide said what mahut lost them, difficult to believe. We just lost 2.5 hours. Another items was nice.
  • May 24, 2017
    Don't trust their tripadvisor reviews Terrible volunteering experience I am a traveller from the UK. The Mondulkiri elephant and wildlife sanctuary instructed i write a review on trip advisor in order to be able to "register" to volunteer with them. When I wanted to start volunteering they said I couldn't start until the next day. The next day came and they told me I couldn't start until the day after again. They told me and my friend alot of lies about when we could start. My aim was to do 3 days of volunteering helping the elephants. We were limited with time. Their aim was to get us to blog on as many websites as possible about their NGO. My aim was to do 3 days volunteering and they agreed accommodation and food is included. They made us wait until the next day to start, so I had to pay one night accommodation, then they wanted us to wait an additional day to start, hence paying accommodation again. That was eating into the limited time we had helping out at the sanctuary and them delaying our start was making it difficult for us to plan the rest of our trip. I just wanted to volunteer with the elephants. They made us pay $75 to do a two day elephant and trekking tour before we could volunteer. Then once they had our money and a good review on trip advisor they didn't let us start volunteering when we wanted to, despite Pre-agreeing this at their office prior to the tour. My experience with the elephant sanctuary, the guides and the elephants was good. They do seem to treat the elephants ethically. But my experience with the LEAF NGO volunteering was very negative and disappointing. They just want the volunteers to do things their way or the highway and are not considerate to the good natured, patient volunteers who have limited time but who genuinely want to help with the elephants in the limited time they have. I cancelled the volunteering contract they made me sign the night before as they lied several times to us thereafter. We told them what we thought (i.e everything above) and how dissapointed we were that they wouldn't let us start volunteering, we were instead blamed for being rude and hostile. I would recommend given our recent experience to think twice before offering to volunteer with the LEAF ngo.  Be weary of them asking you to write a trip advisor review as a condition of "registering" as a volunteer.  Be weary of them making you pay for a two day trekking tour as a Pre-requisite to volunteering. Be weary of them trying to control your vision of volunteering with the elephants by requesting you blog for them rather than help the elephants. They will now reply to this comment and claim I'm rude and a liar. That's OK... it's up to you if you want any involvement with them.
  • July 11, 2017
    Greet organization for helpful to conservation elephants other animal and community Bonung people .
  • March 2, 2017
    Terrible Experience The tour started very well. We got dropped off on the side of the road and we started walking across grass fields and over hills with our tour guide Tom. He explained some very interesting facts about the local flora and fauna. We kept hiking and exploring plants until midday. Slowly, we got suspicious. Is he flaying time? We haven't seen a single animal, not an elephant nor other animals, so far. Right before we finally "found" one elephant, Tom shouted out loud, "I found the elephant!". It was before he was actually able to see the large animal. Except Tom is one of the fortunate people who is able to look around corners. He only saw the guy who was leading the elephant with a large wooden pole in his hand sitting on a rock beside the track very angry looking. We didn't find the elephant there in the woods by accident. The animal was lead there by his leader. We were allowed to feed bananas to the elephant. That was our only close up interaction with this elephant for the whole day after all. The elephant wasn't allowed to get too close to us. Because it is dangerous, they told us. To keep space between us and the giant, the elephant leader shouted out very loud and rude sounding commands and threatened the animal with the pole he carried in his hands and if this wasn't enough he grabbed the elephant very hard by the ear and pulled it backwards. Somebody of our group asked about the other elephants in the sanctuary. Because the office in town advertises the sanctuary with about 5 elephants. Tom answered, that they were on a wedding. I went through many reviews from the past written by people who participated in a tour like ours and they always reported about 1 or 2 elephants they have seen on the whole tour. And there is always somebody with the elephant, leading it. They carry a wooden pole to threaten the elephant, to hit it with it. The next point on our one day adventure was going back to the camp. That meant, we went ahead and the elephant with the elephant leader followed us. Of course, loudly shouted commands and threats towards the elephant. After lunch and our group was done swimming. We were supposed to give the elephant a bath. The elephant couldn't or didn't want to go in the water. The elephant leader yelled at him. He forced him down a big, steep step into the water. The elephant screamed while sliding downhill into the water. Almost fell over and screamed even louder. It was horrible to even look at. When the elephant was in its weakest position, almost falling over, the elephant leader jumped on its back and lead him into deeper water. He forced him to go down and take a bath, always threatening with the wooden pole in his hand. They tell us, that elephants love taking a bath. But this elephant didn't like a bath in this moment. And that’s the whole point of being free. To take a bath when the elephant wants to take a bath. Not when we force the elephant to it. But at this point, I don't want to miss out to tell you about the monkey which lives in the camp. There was a dog carrier where they locked him up while no visitors were around. I saw one of the residents of the village kicking the monkey in the face. Another resident shot him with a airgun while we were right there. And I don't want to miss out to tell you, is a perfect business idea. The volunteers are preparing everything for the 1 and 2 day groups. Means, tourists cook for tourists while paying top Dollar for working there which includes cooking, washing dishes and building houses. These elephants in this "sanctuary" aren't as free as people from the tour office advertise. They are still used as work elephants and they are just rented out for the time to show them to the tourist groups.

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