Happy to volunteers here

hello there,

I am Ginny Koppelaar. I am a solo traveler from the netherlands. I am 26 years old and i have studied pedagogics. In the Nederlands i was working as a social worker in fostercare. I am traveling for 3,5 months and stay for 3 weeks in Cambodia. I love the variaty from Cambodia and the mondulkiri project can not miss in that! The project showed me that they are working hard and doin a great job in supporting the locals and taking care of the elephants. The 2day trekking was really nice to do. the people are really friendly and they let you feel so welcome. Thats why i want to help them a bit with voluntering. they really thank you

need some help for building, gardning and cleaning. I hope that i can help them with that.

Volunteering with LEAF

My name is Ana Maria Mejia Palacio, I am from Colombia and I like being volunteer in different kind of projects, because I believe that If we all help others, animals and the environment, we can make a change, we could make a better place for the future and be better human beings. I love animals do i think this kind of projects are really worth the effort to give a better life to this wonderful elephants, so they can be walking  free around the sanctuary and not work anymore.

Volunteering with LEAF

My name is Adele Ward and I am from England, United Kingdom in Europe.

I have just finished the two day elephant sanctuary tour and would very much like to volunteer with you at the Sanctuary until the 24th of February.

I really appreciate the work you are doing in providing a safe place for the elephants and this is why I would like to volunteer.

Vanessa Young – New sanctuary volunteer:

My name is Vanessa and I’m from Scotland. I recently graduated from university where I studied Environmental Management. I love nature and wildlife so I was looking for somewhere that I can take part in something that helps with both. For me the LEAF project is perfect. They work with the local communities to educate and raise awareness of conservation. They also care for ex working elephants and give them the best care possible.

My real passion is animals and I am so happy to say that at the Sanctuary they really care for the elephants and animals like family. Spending time with the elephants it is clear that they want to provide the best care for the animals as possible and the elephants are all happy!

The two day tour was amazing. I did the first day with the elephants where we got to bathe and feed the elephants, and I fell in love!! The second day was the jungle trek where our guide showed us all the best waterfalls and told us about the local area. It was my favourite part of my travelling trip so far!! I am very lucky to have this opportunity.

I think the L.E.A.F Sanctuary can really make a difference and it is very important for the future of the elephants.

Srey Leak – A Young Cambodian Conservationist

My name Sovolak Laing .  I come from Phnom Penh city, I studied Tourism and Hospitality at Build Bright University.


I love nature, and was always interested in helping conservation in my country. Following my graduation, I heard about the Mondulikiri elephant & wildliife sanctuary conservation project.    When I saw all the animals enjoying a free life the LEAF conservation center & learned the purpose of the organization  & decided to apply as a full time project manager.

We have plans want to build a small veterinary clinic at our center, in order to assist wildlife in need of healthcare. We also want to set up a school outreach for Mondulkiri’s indigenous children. To teach children to respect & protect local forests and wildlife & stop illegal logging & burning our forest.

Our organization is also seeking to buy additional land in order to replanting a a new community food forest & expand the protected wildlife area & provide food & shelter for wild animals.

I really enjoy my job, as we get to help 6 amazing Cambodian elephants and other wild animals in our area, we helped create daily livelihoods for local Indigenous communities and protect & help replant local forest…

I think the future will be better if Khmer people learn how to love and care for wild animals instead of hunting them for personal wealth.

All this, makes my work with L.E.A.F very interesting  and I’m glad I decided to work here in beautiful Mondulkiri province.

Danica, a volunteer from England

Mondulkiri Elephant & Wildlife SanctuaryI’m currently halfway through my time volunteering for L.E.A.F at the Sanctuary.

So far, I have witnessed nothing but care for the animals, from monkeys to elephants.  Also, L.E.A.F and the Sanctuaries involvement with the community and giving back.

I’ve been able to take part with the tours and have  learned so much about L.EA.F, the Sanctuary and all that they do.

The guides and staff are so friendly, they make you feel right at home and the food provided by the organisation is also amazing.

Getting up close and personal with the elephants is an amazing experience but knowing you are doing it with an organisation that is so far from greed, and are just about the care of the animals and helping the community.

From day one at the Sanctuary you too feel like you have given a small contribution to the organisation.

By Danica Vickery

Chris Emerson- Volunteer


Taking a well earned break

A massive thanks to my two guides Thom, Royce and the rest of the amazing staff who made the Mondulkiri Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary the highlight of my trip in Cambodia.

I spent 5 days here as a volunteer where one of my tasks was to plant fruit trees in areas that had been previously cleared of forest. This was the first stage in a 7 year process to restore the forest and help local wildlife.

I also helped in the construction of bamboo railings and pathways to provide safe access to the elephant pools.

In any free time we were able to feed the monkeys, build campfires, swim and become submerged in the local culture.

As well as volunteer work we also spent one day with the elephants and another day trekking through the jungle.

These were by far some of my best days in south east Asia.

Debz – New to L.E.A.F

Becoming the newest member of L.E.A.F and working on the Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary project, I feel both humble and so privileged.

To be able every day, to work on a project that helps elephants (and other wildlife), conservation and both the indigenous people and local community – is absolutely awesome.

To raise people’s awareness to L.E.A.F, it’s projects and aims for the future, for the growth of the Sanctuary and our elephants habitat.  I hope, that over time we are able to raise the funds necessary to acquire the additional land, for the elephants we plan to rescue and have roaming free.

I look forward to every opportunity to appreciate watching the elephants, eating and enjoying the freedom of roaming free… without barriers or restrictions.FB_IMG_1476225518374.jpg


The Adventure of a Lucky Young Leopard Cat

Last April, we received a wildlife SOS call from the Bunong village of Putru. the villagers sought our help for a young Leopard kitten – who was found lingering by her mother who had been killed in a deadly deer snare.  The villagers, who could find no use with such a small cat, had kept the orphan as a pet.

A Leopard cat may seem cute and harmless, but it is actually about 4 times more powerful and faster than a house cat. One of the main reasons the community village were keen to part ways with the cat was due to her wild tendency to kill chickens anytime they let her run around the village.

the L.E.A.F negotiated a deal to get the cat out of her small cage and bring her for rehabilitation at the Mondulkiri sanctuary where it would hopefully learn how to to hunt, fish and be able to roam wild once again.


The baby leopard kitten rescue by L.E.A.F

This morning I – Noah – found the furry visitor in front of my hut. She first caught my attention when some nearby high grass started to shake ­– and out came the kitten, hopping and frolicking.

Despite being aged less than four months old, the big eyed kitten has already lived through tough times: Losing her mother to poachers & being caged in captivity.

There are concerns that arise in the process of  reintegrating a young animal into the wild. Firstly, we were unsure whether the cat’s mother had passed on the necessary survival skills for the cat to become self sufficient in the unforgiving jungle. Can the young feline protect itself from predators without knowing about territorial rules? Will it be able to communicate with its own species? Will it be able to mate? And most importantly, will the leopard cat be able to feed itself?

We started  her rehabilitation on supplementary feeding, leaving fish in different spots by the river in the sanctuary. At first, the cat would make a daily visit into the kitchen area around sunset in search of food. Positive signs were seen when these visits became less frequent. I was the most happy when I saw her successfully hunt three lizards, a mouse and a big beetle.



The wild cat pounced – tongue out – on a big flying beetle.

Another main issue with the reintroduction process is the constant human contact the cat received at the village. The majority of people will agree that this is an extremely cute cat, but cuddling and holding disrupts its development. In a perfect world, wild animals should run and hide long before a human comes close to seeing them. Associating humans with food not only creates a reliance for the animals, but it also facilitates the job of ruthless poachers searching for income. The first few days after its release, the kitten followed a group of trekkers and even went swimming with them in the sanctuary’s waterfall. It would even hop up on the table during dinner like a disobedient house cat. In order to limit human contact, we supplementary feed the cat in remote places and we prohibit people touching the cat. As time passed, we saw less and less of the cat.

These days, we very rarely spot the fishing cat anymore. The fact that she has grown considerably shows that her hunting skills seem well developed, especially since we stopped the supplementary feeding. Unlike before, she runs away from people if they get too close. The earlier video filmed from my hut’s porch showing her sniffing my lens shows that there is still work that has to be done for this semi-wild cat to be fully independent. Although seeing her more scarcely is a lovely sign that she is adapting well to her environment and is happy about her new jungle life.

Poaching is so prevalent in Cambodia that leopard cat numbers are dwindling & fishing cat s were recently feared to be extinct. Luckily, after nearly 10 years without any sightings, the first pictures and footage of the now “IUCN Endangered status” fishing cat in Cambodia were released in September 2015. Since then, there have been a greater number of sightings across the country, but Fishing Cat populations are said to be more than half of what they were 20 years ago.


A fishing cat spotted in Cambodia in over 10 years – Fauna & Flora International/Royal University of Phnom Penh, Sept 2015. 


Ben: My Journey To Mondulkiri


The thought of potentially gaining experience in conservation projects during my travels was a big incentive for me to leave Wales in direction of Southeast Asia in June 2015. My loose plan was to find different conservation projects that could benefit from my help. Sitting on my one-way flight to Bangkok I had no idea what kind of projects awaited. Fair to say, I never dreamed that come December I would be working with an up and coming conservation project in Eastern Cambodia.

The Mondulkiri Province was not originally in my travel plans, but to say I had a travel ‘plan’ is a very broad statement. I first arrived in Cambodia with very few preconceptions about what the country had to offer. My Dutch friend, Laurens, I met in Siem Reap introduced me to Mondulkiri after travelling together through the main tourist attractions in Cambodia. After experiencing the joys of Siem Reap pub street and the beauty of Serendipidy beach in Sihanoukville (if you have not had the pleasure of seeing these places, then you might not see the sarcasm), we both needed some nature to refill our batteries. As it turned out, Mondulkiri was the perfect place experience and trek through Cambodia’s magnificent forestry and turned out to be where I would find the ideal conservation project to help out.


After visiting a few other places on the journey east we got to Mondulkiri, and just by looking out of the window of the bus I could tell that I was going to love it here. Compared to most of the other places I had been in Cambodia Mondulkiri seemed like a real oasis, with beautiful rolling hills, covered in lush green forest. Upon meeting Kim and learning about the work L.E.A.F does here in Mondulkiri to protect the forest and wildlife I was captivated and wanted to see the sanctuary and see how I could help. After doing the one day trek around the sanctuary I fell in love with the stunning forest protected by the sanctuary and, of course, the elephants. I could instantly see that Chellot and Chepril are so happy in the sanctuary and are loving the retirement that L.E.A.F has given them. After visiting the sanctuary and learning about their plans for the rescue centre I instantly wanted to help them out to achieve their vision, using my degree and experience. So after meeting and speaking at length with Sokha about his vision and how I could help to achieve it, we decided that I would come and start working as project manager/administrator in December, I was over the moon!

me n tom carrying banana tree.jpg

After a few days in Mondulkiri I crossed the border over to Vietnam where I travelled for a month before flying to Indonesia for two months. While in Indonesia I volunteered at Cikananga rescue centre in central Java for a month, this gave me the opportunity to get some more experience at a rescue centre and really motivated me to get back to Mondulkiri and get stuck in to my new project. Following my month volunteering I travelled through almost the whole of Java over land, to Bali. After a few days travelling around Bali from west to east I ended up in Kuta, which was on the verge of being my idea of hell. In Kuta I met Noah, who shared my detest for the concrete covered drunkard playground that is Kuta. For the next couple of weeks I travelled around Bali with Noah and a few other friends, snorkeling through perfect corals in Amed, swimming with turtles in the paradise of the Gili islands and riding scooters around Lombok.


After experiencing just a small part of what Indonesia has to offer I was on a flight to Phnom Penh buzzing with excitement to get to sanctuary and start this new chapter of my travels. After travelling for so long and having so many new experiences every day I had grown slightly tired of packing up and moving every few days and I was starting to lose the shock value of the awe-inspiring sights I was seeing. Since living in Mondulkiri I have really loved getting involved with the community in Sen Monorom; meeting new people all the time, playing football with the locals and mostly exploring the sanctuary and the other amazing places Mondulkiri has to offer. Mondulkiri definitely has a place in my heart now, it feels like home. I have really enjoyed becoming a part of the project and seeing it move forward since I started. Whether it’s talking to people about visiting the sanctuary and doing some trekking or with people running other projects to work in conjunction with us I have loved putting my people skills to good use and promoting a project I am passionate about. Leading treks around the sanctuary has also been so much fun for me, walking through the lush forests in the valley, meeting people from all around the globe and teaching them about the work we do. Also through doing this I have had the chance to be on Filipino TV, which is something I’d never thought I’d say. Also being here has allowed me to put some of my experience into practise, putting plans together for the rescue centre, seeing the first enclosure going up and, of course, working with elephants.