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Cardamom Mountains

Koh Kong, Cambodia

The Cardamom Mountains
The Cardamom Mountains is a mountain range in the south west of Cambodia, jutting into southeastern Thailand. The highest elevation of the Cardamom Mountains is Phnom Aural at 1,813 metres (5,948 ft) high. This is also Cambodia's highest peak. This range of mountains formed one of the last strongholds of the Khmer Rouge, and many parts are largely inaccessible. The inaccessibility of the hills, however, helped to preserve the area.
Tourism is relatively new to the area. In 2008, Wildlife Alliance launched a community-based ecotourism program in the village of Chi-Phat, marketed as the "gateway to the Cardamoms". However the number of international visitors remains very small in comparison to the tourism development of Siem Reap (home to Angkor Wat) or Phnom Penh.
These relatively isolated mountains now form an important tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion, the Cardamom Mountains rain forests. One of the largest and still mostly unexplored forests in southeast Asia, it is separated from other rainforests in the region. The moist climate and undisturbed nature of the rocky mountainsides appears to have allowed a rich variety of wildlife to thrive, although the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains are poorly researched and the wildlife that is assumed to be here still needs to be catalogued.
They are thought to be home to over 100 mammals such as the Large Indian Civet and Banteng cattle. The rivers are home to both Irrawaddy and humpback dolphins and are home to some of the last populations on earth of the very rare Siamese crocodiles and the only nearly extinct batagur baska, or Royal turtle remaining in Cambodia. while the forests are habitat for more than 450 bird species.

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