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Kulen Elephant Forest - My Indie World

Kulen Elephant Forest


Kulen Elephant Forest

Play • Siem Reap • Owner: David-Jaya Piot

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Kulen Elephant Forest Tour
Up close and personal with elephants. Book Now


Meet Kulen Elephant Forest Co-Founder, David-Jaya Piot

David, a French-Cambodian hails from a renowned hotelier family in Siem Reap, known for their Angkor Village Hotel established in 1994. Despite being part of a successful hotel business, David has chosen to pursue his new passion: ensuring retired elephants can enjoy their remaining years in a lush sanctuary.

David’s journey towards this endeavor began when he decided to break away from his previous roles, which involved working in a bank in Jordan and later for his father’s hotel in Siem Reap. Coincidentally, during this time, the Cambodian government implemented a ban on elephant rides in Siem Reap. Inspired by a desire for adventure and captivated by the enchanting tales of those living in Cambodia, David embarked on a path to create his own extraordinary story.

Motivated by his father’s previous attempt to establish an elephant sanctuary near Kbal Spean, which unfortunately failed due to the lack of popularity of eco-tourism in the early 2000s, David took the initiative to relocate elephants from Angkor Wat to a 400-hectare sanctuary nestled within the Bos Thom forest community.

In 2019, the sanctuary housed 14 elephants, but unfortunately, the oldest elephants passed away in the last three years, leaving the current count at 11. David understands the significance of elephants’ longevity, noting that they are considered old when they reach 70 years, often marking the end of their lives.

To ensure the elephants’ well-being and prevent any harm to the local villagers’ fields, a dedicated team of eighteen mahouts works in shifts, providing care and attention to the majestic creatures.

Through his actions and dedication, David demonstrates a profound love for elephants and a desire to create a sanctuary where these intelligent beings can live out their remaining years in peace and comfort. His pursuit of a life filled with adventure and his commitment to protecting these endangered animals make David a remarkable advocate for wildlife conservation.

Meet The Kulen Elephants

Made With Love

Kulen Elephant Forest opened on December 16th 2019. It is a retirement home for the former riding elephants of Angkor. For over 20 years, these elephants offered rides within the Angkor Archaeological Park. As living testimony to a changing world, they are now free to roam unburdened and rediscover natural and social behaviors within 445 hectares of protected forest.

The mahout (the elephant handler) and elephant relationship is one of the oldest human-animal relationships, possibly beginning as far back as 5,000 years ago. The elephant and his mahout develop a working relationship that traditionally lasted for a lifetime. However, the mahout profession and culture are threatened nowadays with many mahouts leaving for more profitable and less demanding jobs in city industries. We are really lucky at Kulen Elephant Forest to have such incredible mahout!

Fuelled With Passion

Creating a peaceful and secure atmosphere where these retired elephants can be cared for in a most professional manner is what motivates us the most. Seeing them re-learn how to be elephants is the greatest reward.

Chi Tem and Chi Tan being curious! They won’t believe the basket is empty unless they check it themselves…

You might get the chance to learn from Mrs.Ya POK how to do delicious Elephants treats.

Driven By Purpose

There is so much to say about the state of asian elephants today. From habitat loss, the preservation of wild populations, to the global misunderstanding of elephant welfare as a profession, and the support of local populations through ecotourism: Kulen Elephant Forest as a project touches upon many sensitive topics. Informing the public while having as big of a tangible impact as possible is the value that we seek to create for the world.

Even though they have five toes on both their front and back feet, Asian elephants usually only have four toenails on their back feet.

Elephants tend to stay near water sources, they can smell water from five kilometers away.