Under the High Patronage of His Majesty NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia
Elephants, a species
in great danger !
An ecological and cultural
conservation project
Meet
Bokva
the biggest domesticated elephant in Cambodia
Since immemorial times,
being a mahout
is transmitted from generation to generation.
A thousand years old tradition 
             
         inherited from the
Khmer Empire
No « happy » elephants
without forest !

Introduction

AIRAVATA is a “new generation” elephant camp, a responsible and ethical alternative to mass tourism.
Located a few kilometres South of Ratanakiri’s capital, AIRAVATA is a place where indigenous mahouts treat elephants in the best possible way as they enjoy their work. There, travellers can meet the gentle giants in optimum natural conditions.

The AIRAVATA Foundation (named from the tri-headed elephant, mount of God Indra in the Hindu mythology) is radically different from most elephant conservation associations who completely discourage any interaction with the animals. If the well-being and living conditions of our elephants are the centre of AIRAVATA’s preoccupations, our approach of conservation is also a cultural one!

As a matter of fact, Cambodia owes a lot to the elephant, which has been accompanying the kingdom all along its history. We mean to perpetuate those traditions as they are constituent to the country’s soul, all the more that the wild elephant population is threatened each day a little bit more by deforestation and poaching. We hence concentrate on the surviving domestic population and keep offering, among other eco-tourist activities, the traditional elephant rides, but carefully supervised and in the elephant’s natural habitat, the forest.

Our last action was the rescue and rehabilitation of the famous Bak Maï, Mondolkiri’s « killer elephant ». The other sanctuaries didn’t want him and he was condemned to death by starving for having killed a man. Yet, since day one he arrived in our care, Bak Maï integrated very well with his fellow creatures and his mahouts appreciate him greatly!
In a residual forest of a few hundred hectares, small groups of travellers can now enjoy the unique experience of interacting with the last domesticated Cambodian elephants !

Volontary work will soon be organized for people willing to help in various fields : mahout and staff training, forest protection, organizing fire breaks and tree nurseries to help replant deforested areas…

AIRAVATA wishes to demonstrate that an elephant camp can be managed without having to exploit or abuse the animals.
The future of the Khmer domesticated elephant is at stake!

The sword of Damocles

Like many other Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia is undergoing a frantic growth, which is claiming with it the formidable bio-diversity of a whole country !
Hundreds of thousands of hectares were and are still savagely bulldozed, to such an extend that soon none of the emblematic animals of Cambodia will be left in the wild !
The tiger has already disappeared and the elephant is taking the same path.

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250
250 hectares of forest to protect
x4
4 Elephants rescued by the centre
x5
5 mahouts entirely devoted to their animals

The project

Airavata was created to curb the trend, to protect on a small scale, a human scale, the last elephants of a province and the forest where they were born.

In the old days, each Ratanakiri tribe would own a few elephants but, time passing, the province started loosing its pachyderms. An exceptional heritage was on the verge of disappearance, elephants but also all the knowledge passed on from generation to generation by families of mahouts.
We are therefore proud and happy to introduce you to the very last elephants of the province in their natural environment, the protected forest of Okatieng.

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Protect

In the old days, each Ratanakiri tribe would own a few elephants but, time passing, the province started loosing its pachyderms.

Preserve

An exceptional heritage was on the verge of disappearance, elephants but also all the knowledge passed on from generation to generation by families of mahouts.

Interact

A Conservation Project that is both cultural, ecological and social, AÏRAVATA allows a real interaction with elephants and teaches the public to know them, to take care of them and to ride them themselves.

Safeguard

Airavata was created to curb the trend, to protect on a small scale, a human scale, the last elephants of a province and the forest where they were born.

Curb the trend

Like so many other South East Asian countries, Cambodia is suffering from a fast and uncontrolled development that is obliterating the formidable bio-diversity of a whole country. Hundreds of thousands of hectares were and are still savagely bulldozed, to such an extend that soon none of the emblematic animals of Cambodia will be left in the wild ! The tiger has already disappeared and the elephant is taking the same path.

Develop

Further down from the clear forest where our elephants currently evolve there is a superb mature forest of about 300 hectares that, thanks to a hilly terrain has been largely protected from deforestation. The three villages owning this forest have agreed to let us develop ecotourism in various forms.

Proverbs & Quotes