Sen Monorom is the main town in Mondulkiri, Cambodia’s wildest province, located on the border with Laos and Vietnam. In recent years, several local NGOs and associations for the protection of elephants and their habitat have sprung up here.
In Cambodia, as in other parts of Asia, elephants are considered endangered. The main cause is habitat loss. The uncontrolled deforestation of large areas of the territory is a very serious danger to the biodiversity that has lived here for centuries.
In the territories around Sen Monorom, elephants live both in the wild and in captivity. Tradition has it that there is very close cooperation between these pachyderms and the Bu nong, an animist ethnic group inhabiting the Mondulkiri forests and living in symbiosis with nature. This is why Bunong men are also called mahout, a Hindi term meaning ‘one who rides the elephant‘.
Coexistence between humans and elephants is not easy. It is based on a precarious equilibrium made even more fragile by the sudden changes – an unfortunate synonym for progress, in this particular case – affecting this area.
We will go to those places to understand what is going on. We will live with the Bunongs and their elephants. We will listen to the stories of a sadly disappearing tradition and tell you about the Cambodia Notes because together, we can make a difference.