One of my favourite parts of having a travel blog is the ability to bring attention to projects that I am passionate about, especially ones that are lesser known. During my recent trip to Cambodia I had an absolutely amazing day with the Wildlife Alliance and their full day tour at their animal rescue centre near Phnom Penh. I didn’t even know that there was such an amazing experience so close to the city before my trip, so I wanted to share with you about the great work they are doing if you are as passionate about animals as I am!
The Wildlife Alliance was originally founded in 1995 and is a completely non-profit organisation. Since then, they have completed numerous projects around the world centered on the protection of endangered wildlife. This includes the creation of Anti-Poaching Patrols in Russia to save the Siberian tiger and Amur leopard, assistance in India to protect the Olive Ridley turtle from extinction, assisting the Ecuadorian government in expanding the protected Galapagos Island Marine Boundary, along with several other essential programs all over the world!
I was able to experience the impact of their work in Cambodia by visiting one of their locations at Phnom Tamao. For some background, the Wildlife Alliance began their work in Cambodia in 2000 with the creation of the Cambodia Conservation Program. Soon after, they created a Wildlife Rescue Team and the Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program, which is now an important part in the protection and reforestation of the large forested area in Cambodia. The amount of work they have done in Cambodia is simply staggering and has had an amazing impact on preserving the natural beauty of Cambodia, protecting and rehabilitating countless animals, and educating the local population on the important of wildlife conservation.
PHNOM TAMAO REHABILITATION CENTRE
My experience with the Wildlife Alliance was at their Phnom Tamao Rehabilitation Center, which was one of my favourite days during my entire trip. The Rescue Centre is a government owned property over 6,000 acres of regenerating forest about an hour outside of Phnom Penh. The Centre is a sanctuary for over 1,400 animals who have all been rescued from illegal wildlife trade or victims of habitat loss, many of whom would not have survived in the wild. Every animal is cared for by trained professionals and the ultimate goal of the Centre is to release the animals back into the wilderness!
The full day tour of the rehabilitation centre started at 8:00 AM with pickup in Phnom Penh. We were met by 2 friendly guides and a driver, who picked us up and brought us to a local market where we could buy food for the animals. As soon as we pulled into the Wildlife Centre we were greeted by Lucky the elephant, where we gave her breakfast and accompanied her on her morning walk! We then met the other elephants, including a demonstration of how they trained an elephant named Chhouk to wear a prosthetic foot after he was injured in the wild.
Next, our group was given a behind the scenes tour of the tiger den. The tigers were rescued from an illegal breeding program and would not survive in the wild because they are a hybrid mix, so the Centre gives them a place they can live and thrive in a safe environment. Tigers are my favourite animal and knowing these ones were given a second chance at life was absolutely heartwarming. After the tigers we were treated to a delicious Cambodian lunch, complete with many hammocks, cold drinks, and some great stories!
After we were full from lunch, we were given another behind the scene look at some of the other animals rescued by the sanctuary. This included a family of otters having their own afternoon lunch, a literally cheeky monkey who loved to show her bottom to passing tourists, and a host of other endangered and rehabilitated animals. To top it off, our group was shown the nursery where brand new baby animals were being cared for, including staff feeding both an incredibly cute baby monkey and a newborn pangolin! Finally, we spent the rest of the day being climbed on by young macau monkeys in their own enclosure. Sufficient to say, it was the best Monday I’ve had in a very, very long time.
I hope this brief write up gave you a small preview of the amazing work being done by the Wildlife Alliance. The entire organisation is completely non-profit, with all of our tour proceeds going directly back to fund their many important projects. The direct impact they’ve had on thousands of animals and their habitats cannot be understated, and I strongly encourage everyone to do some more research on their website (and their impossibly cute Instagram page) and see how you can get involved!
I hope this post has been informative in sharing with you the great work that Wildlife Alliance are doing in Cambodia and inspired you to visit Phnom Tamao. Please share any other tips about the centre or Cambodia with our readers in the comments below.
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