Cambodia is home to a wide range of beautiful mammals, birds and reptiles, some native to the country and others that have been brought in to help wildlife numbers increase and thrive. There are many sanctuaries and projects helping the survival of rare and endangered animals within Cambodia that are also friendly and educational places to visit. Take a look at our guide for some of the best places to discover wildlife in Cambodia.
Whether you are setting your sights on a trekking holiday in the mountainous regions of Cambodia or are looking forward to a wide range of activities and sights to see on magnificent variety of Cambodia tours, you will never be too far from discovering wildlife in Cambodia.
Sam Veasna Centre, Siem Reap
Sam Veasna Centre (SVC) has had a significant impact on conservation of key species and habitats in Cambodia. Its work has been instrumental in stabilising and growing some of the most critically endangered species globally. The centre, situated in the popular tourist area of Siem Reap, was established in 2003 in memory of the pioneering Cambodian conservationist Sam Veasna who discovered some of the most important sites for northern Cambodian wildlife conservation. Alison Curry from SVC, who works at the centre, believes that truly sustainable life takes into account wildlife, habitat and the needs of the people and communities.
“SVC’s focus is conservation through community based ecotourism. We work in close partnership with WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) to develop ecotourism communities in some of the vulnerable habitats.
“We build the infrastructure (lodges, hides etc. for tourism) and support and empower through education, training, capacity development, support in administration, government liaison and of course then market to bring wildlife and bird spotters to the area.”
The SVC thrives on benefiting the livelihoods of both man and animal through trying to maintain optimum habitation for the wildlife.
“We have also taken on existing ecotourism communities which we are now working with and developing around Varin and a location called Betreed where you can still see the super rare mega cattle like Gaur, Banteang and rare primates like Black Shanked Doucs, and even a few carnivores are still left!”
Take a look at the SVC website for more details on how you can interact and support the wildlife of Cambodia.
The Elephant Valley Project, Sen Monorom
The Elephant Valley Project is dedicated to nurturing the lives of its resident elephants, as well as catering for the needs and livelihoods of many others in the wild through donations from visitors and friends from around the world. Not only are they a crucial part of Cambodian wildlife, but also the beliefs and spirit of the Bunong, the indigenous people in the Mondulkiri highlands. The work of the Elephant Valley Project allows the connection between them and the native people to never be parted, finding a “middle ground where elephants do not have to work and the Bunong people can still own their elephants and earn income around them.”
If you are wanting to get up-close and personal to these gorgeous, friendly creatures, the Elephant Valley Project hosts daily visits for tourists. You can spend up to a full day with the elephants residing here whilst shadowing them in their natural environment.
Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre
Located in Kratie, the Mekong Turtle Conversation Centre is the home to one of the world’s rarest and largest freshwater turtles, the Cantor Softshell turtle. Housing over 40 indoor tanks for the unusual looking species of reptile, the juvenile turtles are kept in the conservation centre for 10 months before being released into the Mekong River, their natural habitat.
The centre was opened to protect and increase the endangered population of the Cantor Softshell species, as well as other Asian turtles that the facility looks after. Upon visiting the centre, you will not only be helping the conservation of Mekong turtles, but also the local villagers who help to preserve and protect the lives when the turtles are freed into the wild.
The gibbon monkeys of Cambodia are one of the most attractive and popular must-see wildlife sights in the country. Swinging from tree to tree in the canopies, the acrobatic mammal rarely descends to the ground. Normally spotted in the rainforests of Cambodia, there are many opportunities to hike through the mountains to get a glimpse of the charismatic gibbon.
Peter Jones from See Asia Differently, explains how the rare northern buffed yellow cheeked gibbons were first spotted at the Laos border in 2010,
“Their habitat which includes the Veun Sai-Pang conservation area in the Virachey National Park is a global hotspot for these incredibly rare species of gibbon.
“Shortly after they were discovered the travel company ‘See Asia Differently’ set up its initiative to help protect the gibbons, the habitat that they live and to provide income and jobs for the local communities; and hence ‘Gibbon Spotting Cambodia’ was born.”
If you would like a chance to see these amazing mammals of the Cambodian forests, then visit the Gibbon Spotting Cambodia website for more details.
For the lowdown on when to go check out our article on the best time to visit Cambodia
Book a fully inclusive tour of Cambodia with the award-winning tour specialist, Wendy Wu Tours. Our escorted tours visit all the major sights of Cambodia for an unforgettable holiday.
Image Credit: JJ Harrison (Wikimedia Commons), Khan-Tanvir (Wikimedia Commons), Dementia (Wikimedia Commons), Greg Hume (Wikimedia Commons)