In the foothills of Kulen Mountain, lies the Bos Thom Community Forest, 1100 acres of protected forest inhabited by the former elephants of Angkor. For 22 years, these elephants have given rides to visitors in the temples of the world heritage site. Today, they roam free in their natural habitat and are living testimony of a changing world.
With 75 remaining captive elephants in Cambodia, the protection of this amazing animal is more critical than ever. A visit to the Kulen Elephant Forest will not only help the elephants of Angkor but all elephants in Cambodia through the KEF’s longer term objectives, for we believe in the power of education and tourism as drivers for conservation.
The elephants at the Kulen Elephant Forest have spent most of their lives working in the tourism industry and are enjoying a long-awaited and well-deserved retirement. Here in the forest, they can finally roam free and unburdened. They will rediscover relationships, natural foods they haven’t eaten in years, and receive the best of care.
Our mission is to provide our residents with a happy and comfortable retirement but also to offer a fun, educational approach to elephant conservation and contribute as much as possible to preserving the remaining elephants of Cambodia.
Setting an Example
Retiring the elephants of Angkor is a major transition in Cambodia’s perception of elephants’ roles in society and culture. We hope that this transition will help inspire elephant owners across Cambodia to look more towards the conservation model as a real alternative.
We hope to pioneer a successful breeding programme for Cambodia’s elephants. With so few remaining in isolated pockets, we must strive to protect genetic diversity to combat inbreeding
Visitors will get a chance to learn the very real implications of elephant conservation in Cambodia. We offer an ethical, pragmatic and scientific rationale to the conservation debate, a message that we hope our visitors will understand and spread.
We aim to provide support and assistance whenever possible to the captive elephant community of Cambodia. Whether it be through advising, educating, resource exchange or hosting elephants in need of care; we are ready to lend a helping hand.
Meet the elephants
Meet the team
Olivier has worked as a veterinarian in various parts of Africa, which allowed him to nurture his passion for not only animals but biodiversity in general. As an experienced horticulturist, Olivier also works to support our forestry objectives.
Dr. Ronnachit Rungsri
Dr. Ronnachit Rungsri has decades of experience with over a thousand elephants across Thailand and Laos. He is one of Asia’s finest elephant veterinarians and has dealt with all aspects of elephant care, from routine procedures to artificial insemination. As a university lecturer, Dr. Rungsri is a great educator and a formidable source of information for all things elephant.
For over 20 years, Mr. Oan Kiry has worked with elephants in the temples of Angkor. Today, he uses his talents to smoothly run the Kulen Elephant Forest’s operations and maintain its relationship with the local community.
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Chi Mean. Translating roughly to “miss wealthy” has really developed into the star of KEF.
Fun, curious, and gentle she has really blossomed since moving to the forest. She spends her days with her best friend Chi Ole, but the two couldn’t be more different.
Chi Mean likes to be involved with everything, and is always happy to meet new friends and play all day long. She has a soft spot for our young bull Kham Song but unfortunately is most likely too old to have a baby with him.
Her favorite activity is pulling down the vines that grow in the forest, and kicking car tires in the water.
King of the Jungle.
The eldest bull in the herd but with a history of aggression towards elephants and people, Thorng Kham is usually hanging out in the forest with his two mahouts.
He is quite scared of the ladies when they are in a herd, choosing to just spend quality time with either Chi Tem or Chi Youl alone.
We are hoping that his new home will help him calm down and that he will enjoy the company of all the ladies.
The young bull of the herd, and defiantly a favorite of the ladies.
Kham song enjoys the company of all girls in the herd, but he is particular fond of Chi Mean, IPlock and Chi Chlorb.
He is wary of strangers, and only really trusts his mahouts.
He can be found roaming in the forest with a lady friend close by but with his mahout always around to keep him calm and relaxed.
We hope his love of the ladies will blossom into a successful breeding program in the future.
Itok is still finding it hard to settle in her new home.
She can be easily scared in the forest, and has become very defensive with others in the herd because of this.
She relies heavily on her friend Gomphoy for guidance, and staff at the forest work closely with her to help her relax and feel comfortable in her new home.
A shy and wary elephant, she is often kept away from the herd and strange people as this can upset her.
We hope in the future she will regain her confidence and happily find her place in the herd.
Chi chlorb a once quiet and nervous elephants before moving to the forest, has changed into a confident and dominant girl who knows exactly what she wants.
She is not afraid to rip down trees, or push past other elephants in order to get the foods she loves the most, and can be frequently seen taking the water hose and putting it directly into her mouth.
Choosing to hang out with best friend’s Savath and Chi Tone, Chi Chlorb will instantly be at their sides if one calls, with the three being inseparable.
She is also our potential breeding female, and we hope her relationship with Kham Song will grow and the pair can have a baby.
Chi Youl is the mud queen.
At every opportunity she will cover herself in mud, then find a nice big tree to scratch herself against.
Gentle and friendly with people, especially children, she can be feisty with other elephants, and will do anything to protect her best friend Iplock.
A bit of a drama queen, she can often be heard trumpeting over the slightest disturbance in the forest, startling the herd for no reason.
Chi Ole has become a very calm and quiet girl since arriving to the forest, preferring to watch from a distance than get involved.
Not afraid to let others know when she isn’t happy, you will most likely see her hanging out with her best friend Chi Mean.
After spending most her life with Chi Mean, the pair are inseparable, even sleeping and sharing meals together.
She has developed a special relationship with her mahout after losing her sight in one eye, she relies on him to direct her through the forest.
39 Years Old
Chi Tem is our loudest elephant, and regularly trumpets and calls out to her best friend Chi Tan.
Curious and always hungry, Chi Tem enjoys interacting with visitors and her famous squeak can be heard when she’s happy and excited. Her favorite thing to do, besides eating, is splashing and playing in the water.
She has a special relationship with Chi Tan, and will protect her from the other elephants and help pull down tress for her friend to eat. Her Mahout is famous for his leaf singing abilities and she will happily follow him in the forest while he sings to her.
47 Years Old
Chi Tone has undergone the biggest transformation at the forest.
Before she was quiet, and after being blinded in one eye, became very frustrated and often fighting with other elephants.
But she has blossomed into the matriarch of the herd, when she calls the herd comes running, and now she has the respect of all the elephants.
Now she is curios, playful and LOUD!! Her trumpets can be heard every day, and she is proof that the elephants are enjoying their well awaited retirement.
57 Years Old
Gomphoy is another grandma of the herd, and the only one to have had children. Stubborn and wise, she knows all the best places to find food, but once she has found something tasty she is reluctant to move.
She shares a remarkable likeness to her mahout in both personality and appearance, and the pair have a very strong relationship.
She is still uncertain of her new home, and is slowly adapting to her new life in the forest.
She is wary of the other elephants, choosing to spend most her time with her friend Itok or Kham Song.
37 Years Old
Iplock is our big beauty and roundest of all our elephants due to her love of food.
She is always on a diet but manages to find the sweet fruit within the forest, or entice visitors to feed her more with her charming personality.
She enjoys the company of visitors, especially children and will happily approach anyone to see what food they might have.
Since arriving to the forest she loves to spend her days with her best friend Chi Youl, with the pair enjoying mud baths and rubbing up against trees.
47 Years Old
Savath is our wild child. She loves to be in the wilderness, eating wild foods and hanging out with best friends Chi Chlorb and Chi Tone.
Once a very shy and quiet elephant, who was fearful of strangers, she has relaxed since coming to the forest and come out of her shell.
She enjoys being fed by visitors, and has become very vocal and playful, especially in the water.
She can be easily identified by a large rip in her left ear, which we were told was removed due to a snake bite.