BUNONG PEOPLES – Elephant Retirement & Eco-Tourism Vehicles Support

Krong Saen Monourum, Cambodia


The ELIA or Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (E.L.I.E) Organization was established as an elephant sanctuary or safe home for the purchase and retirement/rescue of elephants from the abusive and exhaustive logging industry where these majestic creatures have been exploited for centuries.  As a means of supporting these elephants with their voracious appetite, the ELIE organization  runs this reserve as an “eco-tourism” facility whereby they advertise and get youth from around the world. These youth are usually animal lovers and animal rights advocates who come and volunteer their energies and talents for months or years at a time. This volunteering method keeps the sanctuary’s operating costs at a minimum allowing more funds to be directed into the care and maintenance of these elephants directly.  In exchange for the volunteer’s time and energy, they receive free room and board and most important, they are able to spend priceless time bonding and nurturing these abused elephants. In addition, these volunteers are encouraged to raise additional funds from the outside world, and this is how the Inti Raymi Fund became aware of this wonderful elephant sanctuary program.

In addition to the full time volunteering staff, there are an additional 37 full time staff members made up of the local Indigenous Bunong Peoples who have been an integral part of the facilities since their inception.  As an added benefit to the locals who are paid from an already tight budget, any additional funds available, goes back into the 37 local community workers families to help with their modest living expenses including medical, education for their children and other basic needs.  Please keep in mind the local indigenous workers live in the immediate reserve forest adjacent to the camps are of extremely modest means. 


The Inti Raymi Fund contributed $25,000 directly into the ELIE non-profit organization.  Our donation was used for the investment  in the humanitarian retirement of an older bull elephant names “Hen” which had worked for decades in the Cambodian Logging industry. These highly intelligent animals are treated less than humanely so whenever possible the ELIE organization purchases these elephants and releases them from the bondage of logging. Currently there are approximately 35 elephants in the ELIE Elephant sanctuary which have been rescued from one form of exploitation or another.

In addition to the retirement of this elephant, our contribution was used to purchase two slightly used santuary vehicles.  They purchase a van which is used to ferry the eco-tourism clients from the airport to its remote jungle location and around the village for periodic visit to the nearest towns, and secondly, a pickup truck used for the daily animal husbandry & maintenance of the elephants themselves. 

We highly encourage you go to Cambodia and visit this sanctuary or better yet, go and spend you summer volunteering there. If a visit is not feasible we strongly encourage you donate directly towards this highly sustainable ethical mission.


All Photos by others


Project Details

Sponsors: Chimu

Start Date: November 2015

Completion Date: November 2015

Funded so far: $25,000 USD

Total Project: $25,000 USD

Lives Affected: 37


Team Members


Betsy Ward dancing to welcome the arrival of Hen