Cardamom Mountains

Cardamom Mountains

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Not to be confused with Cardamom Hills
Cardamom Hills
Not to be confused with Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia. For other uses, see Cardamom The Cardamom Hills are part of the southern Western Ghats located in southeast Kerala and southwest Tamil Nadu in South India. Their name comes from the cardamom spice grown in much of the hill's cool elevation,...

 in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. For other uses, see Cardamom (disambiguation)
Cardamom (disambiguation)
-Botanical:*Cardamom , species within two genera of the ginger family Zingiberaceae, namely Elettaria and Amomum*Black cardamom , a plant in the family Zingiberaceae having pods used as a spice...

.

The Krâvanh Mountains, literally the "Cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

 Mountains
" , is a mountain range in the south west of Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, jutting into southeastern Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

Location and description


The mountain range extends along a southeast-northwest axis from Koh Kong Province
Koh Kong Province
Koh Kong is a province of Cambodia. The name means "Kŏng Island Province". Its capital is Koh Kong.-Geography:The most south-western province of Cambodia, Koh Kong has a long undeveloped coastline and a mountainous, forested and largely inaccessible interior which embraces part of the Cardamom...

 on the Gulf of Thailand
Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand , also known in to Malays as Teluk Siam literally meant Gulf of Siam, is a shallow arm of the South China Sea.-Geography:...

 to the Veal Veang District
Veal Veang District
Veal Veang , is a district in Pursat Province, Cambodia. The district capital is Pramoey town located 109 kilometres by road from National Highway Number 5.-Characteristics:...

 in Pursat Province, and is extended to the southeast by the Dâmrei (Elephant) Mountains)
Dâmrei Mountains
The Dâmrei Mountains, literally the "Elephant Mountains", are a mountain range situated in the southwest of Cambodia.-Description:These mountains are an offshoot of the Krâvanh or Cardamom Mountains, but occupy a much smaller area. The highest elevation is Phnom Bokor at 1,081 meters above...

 and to the northwest into Thailand as the Soi Dao Mountains (Khao Soi Dao) in Chanthaburi Province
Chanthaburi Province
Chanthaburi is a province of Thailand. It is located in the east of Thailand, at the border to Battambang and Pailin of Cambodia and the shore to the Gulf of Thailand...

, (therefore also marked as Chanthaburi mountain range in some maps). The highest elevation of the Cardamom Mountains is Phnom Aural
Phnom Aural
Phnom Aural is the tallest peak in Cambodia. It is 1,813 meters tall .It is in the eastern part of the Cardamom Mountains...

 at 1813 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
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

, and many parts are largely inaccessible. The inaccessibility of the hills, however, helped to preserve the area. 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 http://arts.anu.edu.au/arcworld/ippa/ABSTRACTS%20A-E.htm. The jar burials are a unique feature of the mountain, and are a previously unrecorded burial practice in Khmer cultural history. Local legend
Legend
A legend is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude...

s suggest the bones are the remains of Cambodian royalty.

Dense tropical rain forest prevails on the very wet western slopes such as the area around Bokor Hill Station
Bokor Hill Station
Bokor Hill Station is an abandoned French town in Preah Monivong National Park. Construction started in 1921 on Dâmrei Mountains, about 20 km as the crow flies West from the town of Kampot, southern Cambodia...

 in the Elephant Mountains, 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
Kirirom National Park
Kirirom National Park is a national park in Cambodia. It is located mostly in Phnom Sruoch District, Kampong Speu Province, while a smaller section is in neighboring Koh Kong Province.-Legend:...

 on the wooded eastern slopes in the rain shadow facing the interior Cambodian plain. On the eastern slopes cardamom
Cardamom
Cardamom refers to several plants of the genera Elettaria and Amomum in the ginger family Zingiberaceae. Both genera are native to India and Bhutan; they are recognised by their small seed pod, triangular in cross-section and spindle-shaped, with a thin papery outer shell and small black seeds...

 and pepper
Black pepper
Black pepper is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed...

 are still grown commercially.

Tourism is relatively new to the area. In 2008, Wildlife Alliance launched a community-based ecotourism
Ecotourism
Ecotourism is a form of tourism visiting fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas, intended as a low impact and often small scale alternative to standard commercial tourism...

 program in the village of Chi-Phat
Chi-Phat
The Chi-Phat commune is located deep within the Cardamom Mountains at Koh Kong Province, south-west Cambodia.The commune consists four villages:Chi-Phat, Komlot, Chom-Sla and T'k La'o. The commune population is estimated around 3,000 inhabitants ....

, 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
Siem Reap
Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and is the gateway to Angkor region.Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market...

 (home to Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu,...

) or Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

.

Ecology



These relatively isolated mountains now form an important tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

, 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 by the large Khorat Plateau
Khorat Plateau
The Khorat Plateau also Korat Plateau, is a plateau in the northeastern region of Thailand, named for the short form of Nakhon Ratchasima, an historical stronghold controlling access to and from the plateau.-Geography:...

 to the north. The Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese 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
Dacrydium elatum
Dacrydium elatum is a species of conifer in the Podocarpaceae family.It is found in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.Tree to 35m, dbh 80cm-References:...

forest on the southern slopes of the Elephant Mountains and an area of Tenasserim Pine
Tenasserim Pine
The Tenasserim Pine, Pinus latteri, is a pine native to southeast Asia, in the mountains of southeastern Burma, northern Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and on the Chinese island of Hainan....

 dominated forest on the Kirirom plateau.

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
Large Indian Civet
The Large Indian Civet is a member of the Viverrid family native to Southeast Asia. In 2008, the IUCN classified the species as Near Threatened, mainly because of the known heavy trade as wild meat.- Characteristics :...

 and Banteng
Banteng
The banteng , also known as tembadau, is a species of wild cattle found in Southeast Asia.Banteng have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia, and there are around 1.5 million domestic banteng, which are called Bali cattle. These animals are used as working animals and for their meat...

 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
Asian Elephant
The Asian or Asiatic elephant is the only living species of the genus Elephas and distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized — Elephas maximus maximus from Sri Lanka, the Indian elephant or E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m....

 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
Indochinese Tiger
The Indochinese tiger or Corbett's tiger is a subspecies of tiger found in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam and formerly in China. Tigers in peninsular Malaysia, formerly classified as Indochinese, have recently been reclassified as a separate subspecies, Malayan tiger Panthera tigris...

, Clouded Leopard
Clouded Leopard
The clouded leopard is a felid found from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into China, and has been classified as vulnerable in 2008 by IUCN...

 (Pardofelis nebulosa), Dhole
Dhole
The dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is the only extant member of the genus Cuon, which differs from Canis by the reduced number of molars and greater number of teats...

 (a wild dog) (Cuon alpinus), Gaur
Gaur
The gaur , also called Indian bison, is a large bovine native to South Asia and Southeast Asia. The species is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1986 as the population decline in parts of the species' range is likely to be well over 70% over the last three generations...

 (Bos gaurus), Banteng
Banteng
The banteng , also known as tembadau, is a species of wild cattle found in Southeast Asia.Banteng have been domesticated in several places in Southeast Asia, and there are around 1.5 million domestic banteng, which are called Bali cattle. These animals are used as working animals and for their meat...

 (Bos javanicus), the disputed Kting Voar
Kting Voar
The Kting Voar, also known as the Khting Vor, Linh Dương, or Snake-eating Cow is a bovid mammal reputed to exist in Cambodia and Vietnam.- Characteristics :...

 (Pseudonovibos spiralis), Malayan Sun Bear, Pileated Gibbon
Pileated Gibbon
The pileated gibbon is a primate in the Hylobatidae or gibbon family.The pileated gibbon has sexual dimorphism in fur coloration: males have a purely black fur, while the females have a white-grey colored fur with only the belly and head black...

 (Hylobates pileatus) and Sumatran Serow
Sumatran Serow
The Sumatran Serow , also known as the Southern Serow, is a species of goat-antelope native to mountain forests in the Thai-Malay Peninsula and on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The former name of this species is "mainland serow", as all the mainland species of serow used to be considered...

 (Capricornis sumatraensis).

The rivers are home to both Irrawaddy
Irrawaddy dolphin
The Irrawaddy dolphin is a euryhaline species of oceanic dolphin found in discontinuous subpopulations near sea coasts and in estuaries and rivers in parts of the Bay of Bengal and Southeast Asia.-Etymology and taxonomic history:...

 and humpback dolphin
Humpback dolphin
Humpback dolphins are members of the genus Sousa. These dolphins are characterized by the conspicuous humps and elongated dorsal fins found on the back of adult members of the species...

s and are home to some of the last populations on earth of the very rare Siamese crocodile
Siamese Crocodile
Siamese crocodile is a freshwater crocodile native to Indonesia , Brunei, East Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, and Vietnam...

s and the only nearly extinct batagur baska
Batagur baska
The northern river terrapin , also called giant river turtle or mangrove terrapin is a species of riverine turtle. It is one of the most critically endangered turtle species according to a 2003 assessment by the IUCN...

, or Royal turtle remaining in Cambodia. while the forests are habitat for more than 450 bird species, half of Cambodia’s total of which two, the Chestnut-headed Partridge
Chestnut-headed Partridge
The Chestnut-headed Partridge is a species of bird in the Phasianidae family. It is found in highland forests in Cambodia and Thailand. It includes the subspecies diversa, but alternatively it is treated as a separate species, the Siamese Partridge .-References:* BirdLife International 2004....

 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
La Sierra University
La Sierra University is a Seventh-day Adventist co-educational university accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Adventist Accrediting Association...

 in Riverside, California, US and the conservation organisation Fauna and Flora International uncovered new species, such as a new Cnemaspis
Cnemaspis
Cnemaspis is a genus of diurnal gecko found in Asia. With around 75 species it is one of the most diverse genera of geckos or even lizards.-Description:...

gecko, C. neangthyi.

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. Among the international conservation organizations working in the area are Wildlife Alliance
Wildlife Alliance
Wildlife Alliance is an international non-profit wildlife and forest conservation organization with current programs and partnerships in Cambodia, Thailand, and the Russian Far East...

, Conservation International
Conservation International
Conservation International is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, which seeks to ensure the health of humanity by protecting Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity. CI’s work focuses on six key initiatives that affect human well-being: climate, food security, freshwater...

, Fauna and Flora International and WWF (conservation organization). About a third of the ecoregion has been designated as protected areas, the largest of which is Phnom Sankos Wildlife Sanctuary
Phnom Sankos Wildlife Sanctuary
The Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is in the Cardamom Mountains in western Cambodia, adjacent to the international border with Thailand. It is a mountainous area dominated by three discrete peaks: Cambodia's second highest mountain Mount Samkos , Mount Khmaoch and Mount Tumpor...

 while other sizeable parks include Phnom Aural
Phnom Aural
Phnom Aural is the tallest peak in Cambodia. It is 1,813 meters tall .It is in the eastern part of the Cardamom Mountains...

, Preah Monivong
Preah Monivong National Park
Preah Monivong National Park is a national park in southern Cambodia. The main attraction of the park is Bokor Hill Station. The park is one of only two Cambodian ASEAN Heritage Parks .It is also known as Phnom Bokor National Park...

 and Botum-Sakor National Park
Botum-Sakor National Park
Botum Sakor National Park is a national park of Cambodia. Situated on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Botum Sakor is a peninsula projecting southwest from the Cardamom Mountains. The National Park comprises 183,408 hectares of designated park land and spans three districts of Koh Kong Province:...

s, although the level of active protection in all parks in the mountains has been criticised.

Tourism


The Cardamom Mountains are an emerging tourist destination, with the opening of Wildlife Alliance's Chi-Phat
Chi-Phat
The Chi-Phat commune is located deep within the Cardamom Mountains at Koh Kong Province, south-west Cambodia.The commune consists four villages:Chi-Phat, Komlot, Chom-Sla and T'k La'o. The commune population is estimated around 3,000 inhabitants ....

 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 hour's drive from Koh Kong.

See also

  • Cardamom Khmer, a variant of the Khmer language spoken in these mountains
  • K5 Plan
    K5 Plan
    The K5 Plan, K5 Belt or K5 Project, also known as Bamboo Curtain, was an attempt between 1985 and 1989 by the government of the People's Republic of Kampuchea to seal Khmer Rouge guerrilla infiltration routes into Cambodia by means of trenches, wire fences, and minefields along virtually the entire...


External links