Exploring wildlife up close and personal in Mondulkiri

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A visitor at Mayura zoo pets a wild boar, accompanied by a staff member. Pha Lina

The northeastern province of Mondulkiri has long been known as an evergreen paradise. Indigenous villages, waterfalls, scenic hills, valleys, streams and green pastures in the rainy season are among the major tourist attractions that have drawn both local and international visitors.

This is another boon to the Kingdom’s tourism sector, apart from the world-renowned Angkor temples in Siem Reap province and the 450km coastline that had joined the Most Beautiful Bays in the World club.
Numerous travel agencies in the province offer endless possibilities for enthusiasts – from a relaxed tour of ethnic communities to trekking deep in the forest.

For those keen to explore wildlife but not physically fit for the adventure, a local zoo where visitors can get up close to the animals is not to be missed.

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A pair of peacocks are seen at the Mayura zoo in Mondulkiri province. Pha Lina

The 10ha zoo, built by the Cambodian-owned Mayura Wildlife Foundation with a conservation approach, is home to some of the wild species that have become endangered through unabated hunting.

“The zoo has, for years, contributed to the protection of rare wildlife species. It attracts local and international visitors, especially the younger generations, who can learn about wild animals that are present in Cambodia,” says Seng Thea, one of the zoo’s four caretakers.

Among the zoo’s different species are gazelle, deer, wild boar and peacock.

Heng Touch, another caretaker, said the number of peacocks raised at the zoo has now reached the hundreds.

“Because the zoo is situated in the wildlife sanctuary, peacocks normally start flocking here from August onwards. They come every two weeks,” he says.

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In Mayura zoo, visitors can get up close and personal with a herd of deers. Pha Lina

The zoo not only offers a close view of wild species but is also home to the beautiful sunflower gardens that simply take visitors’ breath away.

Along the road leading to the zoo is the so-called “Sea Forest” that offers a bird’s eye view of the sprawling forest downhill.

Tourists wishing to visit the Mayura zoo would need to travel from the provincial Sen Monorom town towards Koh Nhek district, about 30km away.

Make a turn from the national road in Me Mai village of neighbouring Pich Chreada district’s Pou Chrey commune, down a bumpy road about 5km through rubber plantations before reaching the place. Don’t worry, there are road signs along the way.