Environment Minister Say Samal has expressed support for Airavata Elephant Foundation’s plan to create a breeding centre in Ratanakiri province to replenish the local elephant population.
Neth Pheaktra, ministry spokesman, said Chenda Clais, AEF founder, met Mr Samal yesterday in Phnom Penh to discuss the breeding centre.
Mr Pheaktra said Ms Clais told Mr Samal about the plan and Mr Samal was receptive towards the initiative.
“His Excellency clarified the ministry will provide moral and tech support to help AEF to increase elephant breeding that aims to protect [elephants] and conserve Cambodia’s natural resources,” he said.
Mr Pheaktra noted that Ms Clais told Mr Samal that AEF was created four years ago in order to provide an opportunity for tourists to interact closely with elephants.
“Chenda Clais said elephants and its mahouts are important because they have remained in Northeast Cambodia since ancient times,” Mr Pheaktra said.
He noted that Ms Clais said: “This foundation will help protect wild animals to ensure elephants survive”.
Mr Pheaktra said AEF manages land two kilometres from Ratanakiri’s Banlung city, where four elephants reside.
He noted that the ministry will cooperate with all stakeholders in order to maintain the environment and protect the Kingdom’s natural resources.
On Saturday, Mr Clais met with Information Minister Khieu Kanharith to ask for his support in the conservation of elephants in Cambodia.
Last year, the World Wildlife Foundation in Cambodia said elephants play a crucial role in balancing ecosystems by maintaining biodiversity.
It said that elephants continue to face extinction due to habitat destruction and conflict with humans, including poaching.
Last year, Khun Diyon, Mondulkiri provincial director of Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment, said there are about 200 elephants in Cambodian forests, including about 30 to 40 elephants being raised by local communities in Mondulkiri province.