ⓘ ជួរភ្នំក្រវាញ. The Krâvanh Mountains, literally the Cardamom Mountains , is a mountain range in the south west of Cambodia and Eastern Thailand. The silhouette ..


ⓘ ជួរភ្នំក្រវាញ

The Krâvanh Mountains, literally the Cardamom Mountains ", is a mountain range in the south west of Cambodia and Eastern Thailand.

The silhouette of the Cardamom Mountains appears in the provincial seal of Trat Province in Thailand.


1. Location and description

The mountain range extends along a southeast-northwest axis from Koh Kong Province on the Gulf of Thailand to the Veal Veang District in Pursat Province, and is extended to the southeast by the Dâmrei Elephant Mountains). The highest elevation of the Cardamom Mountains is Phnom Aural at 1.813 metres 5.948 ft high. This is also Cambodias highest peak. The northwestern end in Chanthaburi Province, Thailand, appears also as the Soi Dao Mountains Khao Soi Dao and as Chanthaburi Range in some maps.

Dense tropical rain forest prevails on the wet western slopes which annually receive from 150 to 200 inches 3.800–5.000 mm of rainfall. By contrast only 40 to 60 inches 1.000 to 1.500 mm fall in places like Kirirom National Park on the wooded eastern slopes in the rain shadow facing the interior Cambodian plain. On the eastern slopes cardamom and pepper are still grown commercially.


2. History

The mountains contain many 15th-17th century AD sites containing 60 cm exotic ceramic jars and rough hewn log coffins set out on remote, natural rock ledges, which are scattered around the mountains The jar burials are a unique feature of the mountain, and are a previously unrecorded burial practice in Khmer cultural history. Local legends suggest the bones are the remains of Cambodian royalty.

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. Among the international conservation organizations working in the area are Wildlife Alliance, Conservation International, Fauna and Flora International and WWF conservation organization.


3. Ecology

These relatively isolated mountains now form an important tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion, the Cardamom Mountains Moist Forests Ecoregion. One of the largest and still mostly unexplored forests in southeast Asia, it is separated from other rainforests in the region by the large Khorat Plateau to the north. The Vietnamese Phú Quốc island off the coast of Thailand has similar vegetation and is included in the ecoregion.

Most of the region is covered in evergreen rain forest with a different type of thick evergreens above 700m and areas of dwarf conifer Dacrydium elatum forest on the southern slopes of the Elephant Mountains and an area of Tenasserim Pine dominated forest on the Kirirom plateau. Hopea pierrei, an endangered canopy tree rare elsewhere, is relatively abundant in the Cardamom Mountains. Other angiosperm tree species are Anisoptera costata, Anisoptera glabra, Dipterocarpus costatus, Hopea odorata, Shorea hypochra, Caryota urens and Oncosperma tigillarium. Other conifers include Pinus kesiya, Dacrycarpus imbricatus, Podocarpus neriifolius, P. pilgeri and Nageia wallichiana.


3.1. Ecology Fauna

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, and most importantly the mountains are thought to shelter at least 62 globally threatened animal species and 17 globally threatened trees, many of them endemic to Cambodia. Among the animals are fourteen endangered and threatened mammal species, including the largest population of Asian elephant in Cambodia and possibly the whole of Indochina although this still needs proving by research. Other mammals, many of which are threatened, include Indochinese Tiger, Clouded Leopard Pardofelis nebulosa, Dhole a wild dog Cuon alpinus, Gaur Bos gaurus, Banteng Bos javanicus, the disputed Kting Voar Pseudonovibos spiralis, Malayan Sun Bear, Pileated Gibbon Hylobates pileatus, Sumatran Serow Capricornis sumatraensis, Sunda Pangolin and the Tenasserim White-bellied Rat. There are at least 34 species of amphibians, three of them described as new species to science from here.

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, half of Cambodia’s total of which four, the Chestnut-headed Partridge, Lewiss Silver Pheasant Lophura nycthemera lewisi, the Cardamom Peafowl Pavo bokorensis and the Siamese Partridge Arborophila diversa are endemic to these mountains. A reptile and amphibian survey led in June 2007 by Dr Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in Riverside, California, US and the conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International uncovered new species, such as a new Cnemaspis gecko, C. neangthyi.


3.2. Ecology Protected areas

The human population of the Cardamom Mountain Range although very small is extremely poor and threats to the biological diversity of the region include habitat loss due to illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and forest fires caused by slash-and-burn agriculture. While the Cambodian forests are fairly intact, the section in Thailand has been badly affected.

About a third of the ecoregion has been designated as protected areas, but the level of active protection in all parks in the mountains has been criticised.


3.3. Ecology Thailand

  • Namtok Khlong Kaeo National Park
  • Klong Kruewai Chalerm Prakiat Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Namtok Phlio National Park
  • Khao Khitchakut National Park
  • Khao Chamao Khao Wong National Park

4. Tourism

The Cardamom Mountains are an emerging tourist destination, with the opening of Wildlife Alliances Chi-Phat eco-tourism area in the southern Cardamoms in 2007. Activities range from mountain biking and trekking to boat cruises and bird watching.

Wildlife Alliance have also announced the opening, in February 2011, of a second Cardamon Mountains eco-tourism site in nearby Trapeang Roung, roughly 1 hours drive from Koh Kong. Also the newbie WAR Adventures Cambodia organize a wide range of deep jungle activities from the family trekking to the hardcore RAID adventure, jungle orientation and survival training course, even animals and human tracking course. All of this in the region of Sre Ambel in the south west of the Cardamom mountains. The ultimate experience