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Wildlife Rescue Centre and Betelnut Jeep Tours

By: Vinh Dao Posted: January-01-2006 in
Photo Credit - Vinh Dao
Vinh Dao

There are those hardy souls that are interested in the local wildlife and will trek through the jungle for weeks to find it. I am not one of them. It brings up a conundrum of sorts as I enjoy wildlife, just not in the wild.

Which is how I found myself heading to the Phnom Tamao Zoological Garden and Wildlife Rescue Centre with Betelnut Jeep Tours. The Wildlife Center is set amongst 2500 hectares of protected forest and houses over 80 species, all of which have been confiscated by enviromental groups such as Wildaid from the illegal wildlife trade. Betelnut Jeep Tours offers day trips to Phnom Tamao which is located 44 kilometers south from Phnom Penh.

The tour brought our group to several locations throughout the Centre which allowed us to view the diversity of Cambodias indigenous wildlife. Though we were able to view such animals as otters, sun bears, macaques, and the endangered Eld's deer, the highlight of the tour is in the afternoon which is spent in the company of the animals that Cambodia is renowned for - elephants and tigers.

The Wildlife Centre currently has five elephants under their care with the newest addition being a two year old baby named Chook. Found in Mondulkiri and transferred to Wildaid because of his horrible condition, the staff hopes that Chook will make a full recovery and be completely integrated with the other elephants in 6 months. After taking a relaxing stroll with the elephants Jamran, Naran and Lucky, we sat ourselves underneath the shade of a eucalyptis tree and watched these gentle giants frolic in their brand new swimming hole. Next was a visit to the tiger holding pen where we were allowed a very informative question and answer session with one of the Wildaid staff along being entertained with an unsuccessful attempt in how to make their friendly greeting noise.


Vinh Dao is a six year resident of Phnom Penh, he has documented images for various local and international publications along with shooting commissions for development agencies and private companies


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