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Elephants in Cambodia By Prof. Dan Rohlf

Posted by: | April 16, 2014 Comments Off on Elephants in Cambodia By Prof. Dan Rohlf |

Most people love elephants. These enormous, intelligent, and charismatic animals are ubiquitous in children’s stories, the subject of innumerable nature documentaries, and one of the most recognizable species in the world. Elephants are among the reasons we were excited to be in Cambodia – a country with both wild elephant populations as well as a history of using elephants as domestic animals that goes back thousands of years. We soon came to realize that these creatures also provide a tremendous opportunity to understand some of the environmental, sustainability, and animal welfare issues faced by both developing countries and the people who visit this part of the world in part to see elephants in places other than a zoo.

Unfortunately, however, the inescapable fact in Cambodia is that wild elephants have an extremely bleak future. Today there are perhaps 200 elephants that live in remnants of the country’s tropical forests. However, our “jungle trek” in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Province gave us a first hand look at the reasons our grandkids will not likely see these animals in the wild if they visit Cambodia someday. Our first indication of the status of elephant habitat came before we even reached the town of Sen Monorom, jumping off point for the forays into northeast Cambodia’s forested hills. Watching the progress of our trip on our smart phone’s map function, I noticed that we were about to pass through a large area – of course mapped in green – that was labeled as the “Snoul Wildlife Sanctuary.” I eagerly peered out of the car window to see the rice paddies of the lowlands give way to the “ocean of trees” we read about in our guidebook.

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under: General, International, Natural Resources

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