Kulen Mountain – Where Tigers roamed

Kulen Mountain Lookout

Not too many years ago wild Tigers roamed the Kulen mountain and the surrounding Savannas. Today however, Tigers are considered extinct in Cambodia, but there is a reintroduction effort underway that started in 2017. With the help of WWF the Tiger will be reintroduced in the country.

Phnom Kulen, the Kulen mountain range is located about 50km (about 30 miles) N/E of the city of Siem Reap. Some 1200 years ago in the 900’s, Phnom Kulen was named Mahendraparvata and it was the first capital of the Khmer Empire (also called the Angkor Empire). Today it is a place revered by and considered to be sacred to Hindus, Buddists and Cambodians in general. This is where Jayavarman II founded the Khmer Empire.

Siem Reap River headwaters up on the Kulen mountain has some spectacular waterfalls on it's way down the mountain.
Siem Reap River headwaters up on the Kulen mountain has some spectacular waterfalls on it’s way down the mountain. This is the big Kulen falls. Oh, and Lara Croft jumped from the top of this waterfall in the Tombraider movie.

So the story goes – according to locals: First came the farmers and poachers up the mountain and the Tigers largely moved away or were decimated. Then came the tourists who were visiting nearby Angkor Wat and the farmers were shooed off the mountain by the authorities who looked at tourism as a larger catalyst for change than farming.

Siem Reap River high up on the mountain.
Siem Reap River high up on the mountain.
These are the upper falls of the river up on the Kulen mountain.
These are the upper falls of the river up on the Kulen mountain.

Tourism can be a driver of positive change, but it has to be managed very carefully to be a good force and can not be left to self regulation, as this is likely to cause more harm than good.

This is where the river goes over the edge into the big Kulen falls.
This is where the river goes over the edge into the big Kulen falls.
Next to where the river goes over the edge is this big Kudzu overgrown - something.
Next to where the river goes over the edge is this big Kudzu overgrown – something.
Kulen falls. The plunge-pool is perfect for swimming and trunks and change boot can be rented if you did not bring trunks.
Kulen falls. The plunge-pool is perfect for swimming and trunks and change boot can be rented if you did not bring trunks.
Another look out over the area surrounding the Kulen mountain.
Another look out over the area surrounding the Kulen mountain.

Here is a video of the Kulen Falls:

Expand to full screen when playing by clicking arrows in the upper right corner.

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