An impassioned plea from the president of the Airavata Elephant Foundation, Khay Chenda, has sparked a fervent call for support. Chenda’s appeal is directed towards the “Donate 2,000 riel to help one elephant” campaign, an initiative aimed at preventing the extinction of this majestic species.

Since its launch on June 12, the campaign has yet to receive significant traction.

“May I implore all, whether within our nation’s borders or beyond, to extend their generosity. Only then can we ensure that our progeny may behold an elephant in its true majesty, and partake in our collective responsibility to Cambodian elephants,” said Chenda.

Chenda underlined the pivotal role that elephants, often revered as the monarchs of the animal kingdom, play in Cambodian history and culture. They are fundamental pillars of Khmer heritage, contribute vastly to ecosystem preservation, and their dung aids in plant growth by enriching the soil.

“By saving elephants, we safeguard our territorial biodiversity,” said Chenda.

She pointed out that the campaign has found its voice on social media platforms, chiefly those of the Ministry of Tourism, Airavata Elephant Foundation, and their affiliates.

Plans for further promotion and additional fundraising endeavours are being hashed out by the ministry.

“We intend to organise a workshop involving key stakeholders. Our expert team, along with celebrated personalities, will tour the elephant conservation site, documenting their journey to spur further interest,” Chenda revealed.

Top Sopheak, a spokesman for the tourism ministry, admitted on June 15 that the Airavata Elephant Foundation was grappling with a dire shortage of funds necessary for elephant care in Cambodia, thus prompting this initiative.

As per the ministry’s announcement on June 12, public support for the “Donate 2,000 riel to help one elephant” campaign is critical for elephant protection, conservation and propagation efforts. This is instrumental in managing natural resources and preserving biodiversity. Contributions can be made through designated ABA and ACLEDA bank accounts, or by scanning a specified QR code found on the aforementioned social media pages.

Neth Pheaktra, secretary of state for the environment ministry, revealed on June 28 that Cambodia is home to an estimated 400 to 600 wild Asian elephants, in addition to about 70 domestic elephants. He reiterated the cultural and ecological significance of the Asian elephant, emphasising its role in safeguarding its cohabitants.

Highlighting the perilous position of Asian elephants, Pheaktra noted that the Asian elephant is tragically listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. Habitat degradation has resulted in fragmented populations, threatening the stability of this crucial species.