Beginners Guide To Tmatboey Wild Haven: Cambodia’s Secret Wildlife Sanctuary

If you are holidaying in Asia and you want to experience sights and experiences that are off the beaten track as well as sample some of the most exotic creatures that nature has to offer, then you should get yourself down to Tmatboey Wild Haven.

Beginners Guide To Tmatboey Wild Haven Cambodia’s Secret Wildlife Sanctuary

This is a sanctuary that is run by the Sam Veasna Center. This institute is dedicated to the preservation of endangered species across Cambodia, as well as education and sustainable forms of eco-tourism for the local inhabitants.

So where is the Tmatboey Wild Haven and how can you get there? What animals can you expect to see at this sanctuary? What information is there at these sights? Well, we have a complete beginner’s guide to the Tmatboey Wild Haven sanctuary, so that you can plan your next adventure.

What Is The Wild Haven In Cambodia?

The Wild Haven is a bird sanctuary that is found on the outskirts of the village of Tmatboey (roughly 200 miles away from the city of Phnom Pehn).

This is a site where you can see the remarkable bird the giant ibis and its much larger cousin the white-shouldered ibis. The giant ibis is the national bird of Cambodia, the irony is that it is also endangered in this country.

These ibis birds like to nest in the region of Tmatboey, which is why Wildlife Conservation Cambodia’s preservation program decided to come up with an initiative that would help to protect these birds, help generate revenue for the community and help to organize sustainable tourism.

While this initiative was only established to help protect these two species of ibises, this project has massively expanded and there are now 42 species involved in this. This includes birds like crested serpent eagles, great-necked storks, rufous winged buzzards, and the green peafowl.

Who Is Involved With The Wild Haven Project?

There are plenty of people involved with this project, the main one being Cambodia’s Ministry Of Environment, which ensures that all of the organization’s rules are being followed and also negotiates protection and no-hunting agreements with other groups.

But the involvement of the community is where this initiative really comes into its own.

This helps the locals sustain themselves, whether it is by paying them to report sightings of new species of bird or giving a landowner a subsidy to keep certain types of trees on their property.

Ultimately, the aim of this program is to educate the locals about the plight of these animals and give them a reason to get involved with their protection. It also helps the village itself to prosper and will promote tourism to this unknown corner of the country.

This is also organized by the Sam Veasna Center, which helps to establish schemes such as this across the country. This is named after the famous conservationist Sam Veasna, who helped to establish protection status for various areas in Cambodia, as well as finding new species.

What Birds Does The Wild Haven Project Protect?

As we mentioned above, what started off as a mission to protect two species of ibis bird – namely the giant ibis and the white-shouldered ibis – now encompasses 42 rare species of Cambodian bird.

Here are just some of the main birds that this project seeks to protect:

Giant Ibis

This is the national bird of Cambodia and it can be found in the marshes, swamps, lakes, flooded plains and wide rivers in the south of the country. This is a lowland bird that is often found foraging and nesting in trees that are around 25 meters off the forest floor.

They are the largest species of ibis and they can be identified by their large slender beak that curves downwards.

This animal eats mainly insects, although it has also been known to consume small fish and amphibians that it finds in clear lakes and rivers. This species has a conservation status of critically endangered.

White-Shouldered Ibis

This is the distant cousin of the giant ibis bird and, as it suggests in the name, comes with white markings on its body, although it is more on the wings and under the chin than the shoulders. Again, much like the giant ibis, this is a critically endangered species.

Cambodia is the largest home for this bird, and it is estimated that around 85% of the population of white-shouldered ibis birds live in this country. It is considered extinct in a lot of other parts of Asia including Thailand, China and Myanmar.

Crested Serpent Eagles

This is a large brown eagle that is described as stocky with a distinctive yellow face and piercing yellow eyes. This eagle is quite common and has the conservation status of ‘Least Concern’. This creature has a loud and shrill two-note cry that is very distinctive.

Green Peafowl

This is a very colorful bird that resembles a peacock that is quite popular in other parts of the world. However, the Green Peafowl only survives in isolated pockets in Cambodia and has a conservation status of endangered.

Can You Take A Trip To Tmatboey?

Yes, if you go to the Sam Veasna website, then you can organize a trip to this remote village. This is a hefty trip, so make sure that you are ready for adventure when you go.

The average trip to Tmatboey takes around 4 days and 3 nights, although the whole excursion stops off at various other sites of significant cultural interest on the way, so you won’t get bored.

You will travel across a diverse ecosystem and the expert English-speaking tour guides will give you plenty of information on the flora and fauna that you will see along the way.


We hope that our beginner’s guide to Tmatboey Wild Haven has helped you to get a better understanding of what they do here and whether it will be of interest to the average birdwatcher.

This is a great way to both see unforgettable sights and help the local community to sustain themselves.

Olivia Kepner