Ratanakkiri elephant foundation looks for increased funding

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Newborn elephant Noel being cared for at the Airavata Elephant Foundation on Wednesday. AEF VIA FACEBOOK

The Airavata Elephant Foundation (AEF) is requesting donations from the public to support the care of domesticated elephants in Cambodia due to expenses related to the care of a mother elephant and her calf born on December 26.

Queen Mother Norodom Monineath and King Norodom Sihamoni are the royal patrons of the AEF, which also receives support from the Ministry of Environment and the private sector.

AEF president Clais Chenda told The Post on January 12 that the foundation, located in Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat distric, has a primary mission

to care for domesticated elephants in Cambodia and was therefore very proud that the mother elephant named Keo gave birth to her calf named Noel.

“In Cambodia over the past 30 years, only one domesticated elephant has given birth to a calf,” she said. “When the mother elephant recognised and began feeding her baby, it was adorable.”

Chenda continued that in order to care for the health of the mother and baby elephants, the foundation added a number of staff members and was consulting with experts from abroad, causing an increase in payroll and veterinary expenses as well as medicines and feeding costs for the mother and baby.

“On behalf of the [AEF], we would like to request continued financial support ... for the care of domesticated elephants in Cambodia,” she said.

The AEF is now caring for four domesticated elephants collected from private owners in Ratanakkiri’s Lumphat and Bakeo districts in addition to the mother and baby. The foundation said there are currently between 400-600 wild elephants living in protected and sanctuary areas in Cambodia along with nearly 100 domesticated elephants living in captivity.