The Elephant Community Development Program (ECDP) is a local initiative developed for and by the indigenous Bunong community to preserve local wildlife and empower the local people.
The Bunong have inhabited Mondulkiri for as long as 2000 years and have been both physical and spiritual carers for the native elephants for over 120 years, ever since they first domesticated the wild elephants - though the elephants have been a major part of their religion for much longer. The elephants are owned collectively by local families and roam free in the forests with their mahouts. At times they are used responsibly by local farmers to transport reasonable loads of items such as bamboo and bananas. They are no longer ridden, thanks to efforts by this program, and are never mistreated.
Increased urbanization has affected the Bunong people, who remain some of the poorest in Cambodia. Elephant tourism, though controversial, is important for maintaining their quality of life. Whereas other programs are run for profits, the ECDP practices participatory tourism, where tours employ and empower the Bunong community. Proceeds are used strictly for community-development programs and, of course, to help the elephants. This program supports a village 10km from Sen Monorom and their elephants and is expanding thanks to the goodwill of our guests. Our aims are high - to increase the Bunong people’s quality of life as well as protect the environment through responsible tourism - but possible with your assistance.
This website was created and is maintained with the help of volunteers.