Travelers to Cambodia may find that although Cambodia is not primarily a wildlife viewing destination, some isolated pockets of forest may offer some of the best opportunities for wildlife spotting in all of SE Asia. Cambodia’s wildlife diversity is at critically low levels due to deforestation and habitat destruction. It is home to about 16 globally endangered species and 2 critically endangered species. Some larger mammal species found here are dholes, elephants, deer, panthers, bears, tigers, cormorants, cranes, crocodile, and wild water buffalo. Many organizations are working together to try and protect Cambodia’s remaining wildlife diversity. Wildlife is mostly isolated to pockets where intact habitat still remains, including the dry forest along the Lower Mekong, the Elephant Mountains, and the Cardamom Mountains.
For wildlife enthusiasts traveling to Cambodia for a short time, one of the most iconic places to spot wildlife in Cambodia is in the Cardamom Mountains, which were also the last stronghold for the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Tourists to this region are kept to low levels and multi-day treks out of Chi Phat offer the chance to explore the area. Minimal human presence has created a fairly isolated region where the forest has stayed largely intact, offering what is considered to be the most 'wild' and biodiverse region in all of Cambodia, and arguably all of SE Asia. The forests here support a number of endangered species, including the tiger, Asian elephant, sun bear, gibbon, clouded leopard, and the gaur. It is estimated that over 450 bird species live in the canopy. The rivers provide habitat to the Irrawaddy dolphin and humpback dolphin, as well as the rare Siamese crocodile, and at least 34 amphibian species, 3 of which are newly discovered.