LEAF (Local Environmental Awareness Foundation) (http://www.mondulkirisanctuary.org) is focused on educating Cambodian people and foreign visitors about animal welfare and conservation. Logging is also an important issue to LEAF. LEAF is a very newly formed organization. It is quite surprising to see how much a tiny organization can do. They are a non-governmental organization, so all of their money comes from donations and ecotourism. They are using the money they earn to create a sanctuary and eventually a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center and to build houses for the people who volunteer to help.
LEAF is doing a great job for such a new organization, and the thing it is focusing on is rehabilitating the ecosystem for the animals that live in the area. Most of the animals who live in Mondulkiri are migratory, which means they move around to get food and water. And because a lot of the forest that the animals use to migrate has been destroyed by loggers, the animals are having a hard time getting around. But LEAF is trying to stop that. They are rebuilding the main migration corridor in the forest. They are first planting fruit trees, because they grow very quickly. The trees will provide more food for the animals, thus raising the population. And when the forest is healthy enough, LEAF is going to replant the native trees.
After our conversation with Ratana, we walked down to the river to bathe the elephants. The elephants didn’t want to get into the water but just splashed in the mud a lot. I was eating my lunch while the elephants were in the mud, which is a very bad idea. My fried rice ended up with mud in it. The mahouts kept trying to get the elephants into the water, I think because they did not want to ride the elephants’ muddy backs. After a while, the elephants walked out of the mud and into the jungle, with their mahouts following them.
We walked over to a small waterfall without the elephants, and Scott showed us the hydroelectric generator built by a local man that has a zero carbon footprint. LEAF has created lots of eco-friendly energy generators, which they use to power villages and houses for the volunteers to stay in. I found that very interesting.
LEAF Website: http://www.mondulkirisanctuary.org/