Elephant conservation and indigenous experiences in Cambodia: Shaping environmental awareness through participatory filmmaking with young people


This project uses participatory filmmaking to engage young people in the legacies of conflict, post-conflict development challenges and the harms inflicted on the environment. In particular, it focuses on elephant conservation and challenges facing indigenous communities in the Mondolkiri province of Cambodia. It encourages young people to become agents and beneficiaries of change and supports them in the creation of films which explore and can amplify awareness of conservation and indigenous issues across communities.

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Cambodia’s forty years of conflict have left a legacy of environmental harms, including wildlife reduction, deforestation and the loss of cultural heritage informing locally grounded approaches to forest management. Cambodia’s transition to peace and subsequent development has witnessed further environmental harms. Wild elephant numbers, in particular, have sharply declined as a consequence of the loss of their natural habitats. Indigenous communities, who have close cultural and spiritual relationships to elephants, suffer particularly as a marginalized group within wider Cambodian society and as a result of development pressures affecting the forests that they reside in. Conservation practice around elephant habitats, and issues facing indigenous communities who live alongside elephants, therefore offers a key site through which to encourage active and empathetic engagement with conservation issues in Cambodia.

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The project involves a collaboration between the University of Bath, Queen’s University Belfast, The University of Leeds, Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center, and Elephant Livelihood Initiative Environment (ELIE). Through the recruitment of 12 young people, who will be trained in co-productive and participatory filmmaking methods, the project will deliver 3 films that can be used as advocacy tools, highlighting exemplary conservation practice, environmental challenges, and issues facing marginalized indigenous communities through field visits to ELIE sites. Screenings will be held in indigenous communities, for conservation practitioners, at international film festivals, and through social media. In addition to encouraging engagement with conservation issues, it will thereby build a new generation of filmmakers in Cambodia, delivering transferable skills and supporting their longer-term employability.

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Funded by:

AHRC2          4. GCRF (For Web)

In collaboration with:

BATH          Leeds          Print          Basic CMYK