Schoolchildren learn first‐hand about Cambodia’s elephants and the threats faced in the form of wildlife trafficking, poaching, and habitat loss – Photo of schoolchildren with rescued elephants at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (January 31, 2009)

Report to the International Elephant Foundation

Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Project

Report on 2008 Activities

Executive Summary

With the assistance of the International Elephant Foundation and in partnership with Mlup Baitong, Wildlife Alliance’s Kouprey Express mobile environmental education project has delivered a series of elephant conservation education programs to rural communities in Southwest Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.

These elephant conservation activities were part of the Kouprey Express’s successful completion of the first quarter of activities scheduled in its 2008-2010 strategic plans. However, the implementation of activities was delayed somewhat in the first year due to the termination of the agreement between Wildlife Alliance and the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and the development of a new agreement with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Due to the delay, Wildlife Alliance is requesting the International Elephant Foundation’s approval to extend the project implementation for this funding cycle until September 2009.

Figure 1: Students create their own vision of “habitat” ­ 2008


In 2007, Wildlife Alliance’s Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Project successfully applied for a $6,800 grant from the International Elephant Foundation to implement a suite of Asian elephant conservation education programs as part of its 2008-2010 strategic plans for environmental education in the Cardamoms Mountains rainforest (Attachment 1). In addition to the International Elephant Foundation’s generous contribution, the Kouprey Express project received funding totaling more than $111,912.41 from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, SeaWorld & Busch Garden Fund Conservation Fund, Zoos Victoria, and Free the Bears Fund. This represents a 50% increase in funding over previous years, a reflection of the resources needed to implement the hands-on environmental activities set out in the 2008-2010 strategy. The first month of 2008, nominally the start date for the implementation of the 2008-2010 strategy, saw a breakdown in the working arrangements between Wildlife Alliance and the counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Forestry Administration) and the Ministry of Environment (Department of Nature Conservation and Protection). Unfortunately, Wildlife Alliance was unable to meet the salary and per diem demands of the counterparts for 2008 due to budgetary constraints, and contract renewal negotiations ceased when the counterparts refused to return to work. At this point, Wildlife Alliance chose to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministries under which the Kouprey Express project operated. Over the next eight months of 2008, Wildlife Alliance worked with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) to develop and agree a new MoU to allow the Kouprey Express to start its delivery of the 2008-2010 strategy. The MoU (Attachment 2) was signed on 20 August 2008 and the Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Project recommenced project activities in partnership with MoEYS in September 2008.

Objectives and Actions

The objectives of the 2008-2010 DiAction Education strategy are to:

Develop an integrated, action-based environmental curriculum based on the vision “Love Cambodia, Love Nature” that will be explored through four themes: Wildlife Protection, Habitat Protection, Pollution Prevention, and Sustainable Livelihoods.

Deliver the above curriculum to 8,000 Students aged 6-14 throughout 30 schools in the Southern Cardamoms during 2008-2010.

Build a School Environment Network between the 30 schools participating in this program; to build skills, share experience and resources, and help generate revenue for the provision of further educational materials and resources for participating schools.

Due to the delays in implementation in 2008, activities scheduled for late 2007/early 008 ultimately became operational in late 2008.

Figure 2: Students play environment–themed games ­ 2008

The activities funded by the International Elephant Foundation were intended to add a strong component of Asian elephant conservation to the Kouprey Express educational curriculum, reflecting the critical importance of the population of Asian elephants in the Cardamom Mountains and that population’s threats from habitat loss, poaching, and human-elephant conflict. Specifically, the IEF grant funded activities designed to:

1. Increase understanding of elephant conservation among rural communities living in and around elephant habitat in the Cardamom Mountains.

2. Create new elephant conservation educational resources for rural primary schools in the Southern Cardamoms.

3. Involve rural primary school students and community members in creative elephant conservation education, such as art, through the mobile education display.


Thanks to IEF’s generous grant to develop a range of Asian elephant–themed educational materials, Wildlife Alliance’s Kouprey Express Mobile Environmental Education Project contracted with local environmental NGO Mlup Baitong to produce n elephant storybook, elephant board game, and three mobile interactive elephant education display boards (Attachment 3).

The development of the storybook differed slightly from that planned, as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” adventure was deemed too advanced for the target age range (6-14). A more traditional storybook “The Friendship of Children and Elephants,” was therefore developed, based around the central premise of elephant conservation and interaction with communities in the Cardamom Mountains. An English translation is in Attachment 3.

Following the delays due to the disputes with the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Administration, and the development of the new MoU with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, implementation of the 2008-2010 strategic plan has begun well, with a new mobile environmental education team developing and delivering interactive environmental education to rural primary school students to 10 schools in Koh Kong Province, the central geographic focus of Wildlife Alliance’s work in the Cardamoms (map at Attachment 4). From October – April 2009, the following results have been achieved:

• Delivered “Habitat Protection” education module to 1,424 students in 38 classes from 10 schools in Koh Kong Province, increasing awareness by between 5.19% among participants.

• Held four Community Environment Shows attended by 1,490 community members.

• Conducted field trips to bring selected students from the 10 target schools to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to meet rescued elephants and learn about elephant conservation.

• Delivered a range of elephant-themed education materials as detailed in Attachment 3 including a story book, card game, educational posters, etc.

A suite of student and teacher education materials have been produced on Habitat Protection, Wildlife Protection, Pollution Prevention, and Sustainable Livelihoods. The grant from the International Elephant Foundation has enabled the development of a storybook and associated educational materials on elephant conservation for integration into the Mobile Environmental Education Project’s curriculum.

Figure 4: Elephant educational poster for children

The initial printing of the elephant conservation materials resulted in minor errors, which have delayed the final disbursement of funds to the contractor (Mlup Baitong) and the completion of the printing. Specifically, issues were identified with the accuracy of some Khmer spelling in the final printed books. To avoid additional errors, the Project is taking steps to rectify and reprint the books where necessary. The reprinted copies of the books and cards were scheduled to be finished in mid-April 2009.

In the elephant card game featured in Figure 4, students have 25 questions to answer about elephants, their habitat and behavior. The questions are designed to stimulate children’s interest in the behavior, life cycle, and ecological needs of Cambodia’s elephants – while preserving the limited number of elephants remaining in the wild. The questions and instructions are in Attachment 3.

Similar topics are covered in educational posters erected at schools and at wildlife rescue facilities, designed to inform students about the lives of elephants in a culturally-appropriate, kid-friendly format.

Field trips are an important part of the Kouprey Express workplan.

On January 30 to February 1, 2009, the first student field trip of the educational year took place, taking 50 students (five students per school) from the 10 target schools to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center. There, the students visited the animal enclosures and learned about the many different species of rescued animals from an expert Wildlife Alliance biologist.

One of the highlights of the students’ visit was meeting Chhouk, an Asian elephant which had been injured by a poacher’s snare in Mondulkiri. Since 2007, Wildlife Alliance has cared for Chhouk and assisted in his rehabilitation. Since his arrival at Phnom Tamao, in the midst of a difficult and lengthy rehabilitation, Chhouk’s story was portrayed to a global audience on the Anderson Cooper 360° documentary, Planet in Peril.

Figure 6: Students meet rescued elephant Chhouk (leg injured by a poacher's snare) at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center

CNN discussed Chhouk’s story as emblematic of the struggles of Cambodia’s wild elephant populations, facing increasing pressures of habitat encroachment, poaching, and conflicts with rural villagers. Chhouk is becoming a lifelong ambassador for conservation within Cambodia, highlighting the country’s wildlife heritage and drawing attention to the risks of rampant poaching, snaring, and human-wildlife conflict. Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center attracts more than 200,000 Cambodian visitors each year, most of whom lack even a basic understanding of elephants, conservation and habitat protection. Using Chhouk to demonstrate the threats to Cambodia’s wild elephants to the Kouprey Express visitors and other Cambodians enables a conservation impact far beyond the improvement to his own health and welfare.

Figure 7: Kouprey Express students draw elephants during visit to Phnom Tamao

A Forestry Administration member of the Wildlife Alliance – supported Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team was also on hand at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center to provide information to students on wildlife crimes. The WRRT members are able to explain about the different species at PTWRC which they had rescued from wildlife traders, poachers, and human-wildlife conflict situations. Members of the WRRT meet with the students and community members on these trips and explain about wildlife, their habitat, and the importance of respecting and preserving it.

Student participation and informal feedback indicates that the field trip concept is a sound one, giving rural students the opportunity to 1) travel to Phnom Penh, 2) meet students from other rural primary schools in Koh Kong Province, and 3) see representative wildlife native to Southwestern Cambodia. Students were accompanied and supervised by a designated community representative on the trip.

Figure 8: Easels and Community Environment Notice Boards produced and being delivered to the 10 target schools


Wildlife Alliance is hosting a new VIDA (Volunteering from International Development from Australia) volunteer from July 2009 for a period of 18 months. The new VIDA volunteer’s main role will be to advise on project delivery, sustainability, impact and funding for environmental education programs, including Kouprey Express. Over the past year, Wildlife Alliance has focused on improving the capacity of the Cambodian staff and counterparts in the Kouprey Express program, to improve long-term sustainability. Cambodian staff member Sam Veasna has played the principal role in program implementation and reporting, and counterparts from the MoEYS are playing a larger role in program design for the long term. We believe that a greater role for Cambodian staff and partners will strengthen the program’s long-term effectiveness, reduce program costs, and improve relationships with rural communities and Cambodian government agencies.

Attachment 3: Elephant Storybook and Games

Elephant Poster Game Instructions

A. There are 25 questions on 25 card games. The question are:

1. How many years can an elephant survive in its whole life?

2. How much does an elephant eat per day?

3. What does an elephant do when it get hot?

4. Does a female elephant have tusks?

5. Does the elephant have a backbone?

6. In the forests of Cambodia, what are the biggest wildlife?

7. How much does an elephant weight?

8. How many liters of water does an elephant drink per day?

9. Are there many or few elephants in Cambodia?

10. Does the elephant prefer to live alone or in a herd?

11. Does an elephant have a short trunk or long trunk?

12. How many toenails does an Asian elephant have?

13. Do elephant need a big or small area to live in?

14. How are an elephant’s ears shaped?

15. Does elephant need to have sex?

16. How many tusks does an elephant have?

17. Could elephants’ dung be made into compost?

18. Do elephant like eating fruits?

19. Is an elephant’s hair soft or hard? Is its skin thin or thick?

20. Do elephants have teeth?

21. How tall is an elephant?

22. Does an elephant have tongue?

23. How can an elephant breathe?

24. How many baby elephant can be born birth at a time?

25. How much liters of water could an elephant’s trunks store?

There are other instruction cards and one lucky card.

B. How to Play

It is required 4 people to play. There are 4 steps in the posters. These steps are known as “Pateas”. Each player would call their own step “Pateas” which means “home” in English. There are three “Square Lines”. To win the game, he/she has uare Line three times so that they can get the elephant-win!!!

Each player has to:

• Cut the baby elephant into 4 pieces and place in each Pateas which belongs to each player

• Toss up the die to go ahead regarding to the number appear after tossing

• Go ahead on the “round points” on the poster game

• When your die is on the symbol of “Question Mark”, player has to choose one card to see if there is a question. If there is, the player has to answer the question read out loud by one of the players. If the player gets the correct answer, he/she can go to the next “round point”

• If a player answers incorrectly, he/she is not allowed to go ahead and the one who is on the right hand has to take turn playing. • When he/she go around the Square Line and get back to his/her Pateas, he/she can go up to the second Square Line and continue to toss the die and go ahead.

•when the players are done with the three Square Lines, they can reach he elephant and win!!

C. Note:

There is a lucky card among the 25 cards. When the player

picks up the Lucky Card, he/she is allowed to go past three “round points”.

Remember that the Lucky Card has to be put back with othecards when it is used.

The card which was answered correctly has to be removed.

Story Book: The Friendship of Children and Elephants (Khmer)

Please see attached color print of the Khmer-language storybook.

Story Book: The Friendship of Children and Elephants (English translation)


A long time ago, there was a community living near a wildlife sanctuary.


One day, a group of children went for a walk in the forest behind their community.

While walking, they found several large piles of animal dung which they had never seen before. But they did not recognize what kind of animal dung it was.

Sok, one of the boys in the group, asked: “Oh, what is this? What is kind of animal dung is it and why is it so large?”

All the children ran toward the dung pile and asked: “Oh, does anyone know what this animal dung is?”

“No, no, no,” all of them responded.

Elephants are the biggest mammal on earth. An elephant weighs between 3,500 kg and 5,000 kg. You can imagine that this great animal needs to eat a lot! Elephants eat about 200 kg of food per day, such as grass, leaves, fruit, tree bark, and other plants.


Dany, a girl in the group, said: “Let’s follow this trail of animal dung and see how big the animal is.”

All the children agreed and walked into the jungle. elephants!”

Sam, a boy in the group, exclaimed: “Oh, there! They are elephants.”

The rest of the children chorused: “That is an elephant!”

They call a group of elephants a “herd” of elephants. An elephant herd consists of 6-40 elephants. They call the oldest female elephant in the herd a “matriarch”. The matriarch is the decision maker who decides the time and place of herd movements. The rest of the members in the herd follow the matriarch.


All of the children were so glad to see the herd of elephants and followed them into the jungle far away from their community, into an area where they had never been before. Then they realized that they did not know the way and back home. They were frightened and asked:

“Did anyone see the way home?”

“No, no, no,” all of them responded.

Sopheap, a boy in the team, exclaimed: “If so, we have lost our way back home! I am so scared!”

He almost cried.

Elephants can hear soft sounds that humans can’t hear, and are able hear voices of other elephants from a long distance. An elephant uses its ears to flap like a fan to cool itself when it feels hot.


Several young elephants heard the children’s discussion, approached the children, and asked: “Hi everybody, can we be friends with you?”

“Hello young elephants!” the children responded. “We are all glad to be your friends.”

One young elephant told the children: “We heard that you are lost, but don’t worry, we will ask our mothers to accompany you back home.”

An elephant’s trunk is its nose. It can be about 2 meters in length and weigh140 kg. Besides being used for breathing and smelling, it can fulfil many other duties. An elephant uses its trunk to retrieve food, drink, and spray water to wash its body. It can also make loud noise and express its feelings, such as sorrow and love.

The trunk can carry approximately 6 liters of water and it looks like a soft and flexible pipe.


“My dearest friends, said one of the elephants, “please follow me, I will accompany you to visit the sites in this jungle, then our mother will accompany you back to your community.”

The herd of elephants accompanied the lost children back home.

When an elephant relocates it always seeks a partner from a different herd.


The herd of elephants accompanied the lost children back home safely and said goodbye.

Elephants need a large area in which to live and move from one place to another. Sometimes, they cross public roads or community plantations, which is very dangerous for the elephants. If wilderness areas are linked by forest, it helps elephant herds to travel between areas safely.


Time passed. One day, the young elephants missed their little friends and decided to visit them. The elephants almost reached the community when suddenly they met a group of wildlife hunters.

The wildlife hunters shouted to their partner: “Hurry up! Hurry up! Open fire to kill those elephants!”

At the same time, the children who are friends of the young elephants reached the scene and shouted at the wildlife hunters to stop:

Sok politely mentioned: “I beg your pardon, please don’t kill these elephants because they are my good friends. They came here to My grandmother told me that elephants are rare and threatened with extinction in our country.”

Elephants are mammals that take good care of their babies. Adult elephants shield their young by using any means to protect them from danger. Sometimes elephants will attack hunters to stop them from harming their herd.


Sam also courteously talked to the hunters: “Don’t you know? I still remember my teacher’s lecture that “If anyone kills protected animals like elephants in our will go to prison

So please don’t kill these elephants!”

Dany considerately spoke to the hunters too: “I remember my grandfather’s words that “Elephants are a very interesting animal, they were involved in building the Angkor Wat temples and they are now contributing to ecotourism”.

Over 200,000 elephants were used to assist in building the great Temples of Angkor. Imagine how many elephants lived in the jungle during that time! Currently, there are only about 200 elephants left in our country. If we do not help to protect them now, they might become extinct from our country and disappear forever.


A group of old villagers returned from the Buddhist pagoda and passed by the .scene with the elephants and heard about the story.

Then, they also emphasized the important roles of wildlife and natural resources surrounding the community, especially elephants, which are endangered and have almost, disappeared from our country.

The wildlife hunters replied: “After listening to all of your reasonable explanations, I now understand.”

“‘Hey, what do you think?” one of the hunters asked another.

His friend responded: “Now, I acknowledge and understand the importance of wildlife, especially elephants. We have learned a lot about them and we promise to stop killing wildlife because wildlife is extremely important to all of us. From now on, we promise that will participate in the protection of wildlife.” Then, the wildlife hunters said goodbye to the children and village elders.

Let’s all help in protecting wildlife and natural resources for future generations.

The hunting of elephants and other

species of wildlife is prohibited. Hunting elephants

and destroying their environment in Cambodia is not just

a shameful thing to do, it is also against the law.


The main elephant was so glad that it said: “I represent the elephants and would like to thank you all.”

Lastly, the youngest elephant spoke to the children: “Oh dear, if you did not help us on time, some of us would have been killed.

We will never forget your kindness. We say goodbye to you all, and pray for peace and happiness in your community.”

Questions to review the story:


1. What kind of animal dung do the children see?

2. Is the animal dung big or small?

3. When the children see the animal dung, do they know what kind of animdung it is?

4. When the children lose their way in the jungle, who do they what did they do?

5. The young elephants request the children to be their what?

6. When the young elephants become good friends of the children, are theyhappy? Who accompanies the children back to their community?

7. What kind of obstacle meets the herd of elephants the children at the community? 8. What do the hunters want to do to the elephants?

9. Do the children prevent the hunters from killing the herd of elephants? Why?

10. Does anyone meet the children, the herd of elephants, and the hunters? What kind of advice do they give to the hunters?

11. What is the decision of the hunters after hearing the explanations of the children and the advice from the village elders?

12. Does the herd of elephants thank the children and village elders? Why?

13. If the children did not meet the hunters at the scene, would the hunters have killed the elephants?

Attachment 4: Map of Schools Visited in Workplan