Tourist Attraction In Cambodia, Angkor Wat, Plans To End Cruel Elephant Rides By Early Next Year

Photo from Moving Animals

An overworked and exhausted group of elephants will no longer be forced to give rides at one of the largest religious monuments in the world, Angkor Wat in Cambodia. More than 2.5 million international tourists visit the monument each year.

As per Moving Animals, the sites’ remaining 14 elephants are set to be transferred to a conservation center early next year.

“In early 2020, our association plans to end the use of elephants to transport tourists,” The Angkor Elephant Group Committee Director Oan Kiry told The Phnom Penh Post. “They can still watch the elephants and take photos of them in our conservation and breeding center. We want the elephants to live in as natural a manner as possible.”

The use of elephants to ride around Angkor Wak has long been condemned by animal advocates throughout the world; drawing international outrage in 2016 when an elephant collapsed and died from exhaustion after ferrying two tourists to the temple.

“It is a great relief to hear that the elephants who have been forced to work at Angkor Wat for decades, will finally get the rest that they deserve. It is now up to the committee to ensure that these elephants live out their lives in peace,” Moving Animals said in a statement. “The end of elephant rides at Angkor Wat is truly a watershed moment that shows that the tide is turning against cruel wildlife tourism. More and more tourists no longer want to pay to witness animals in chains or captivity.”

Currently there are about 70 “domesticated” elephants in Cambodia. Sadly, there are only an estimated 500 elephants remaining in the wild in Cambodia, including about 110 living in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and nearly 200 in the Cardamom Mountains.

“According to many studies, the number of wild elephants in Cambodia and other countries in Southeast Asia has declined over the past several decades due to illegal hunting, the destruction of their forest habitat and conflict between elephants and people,” said Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra. “The government is working with relevant organizations to formulate strategies to protect and preserve elephants in Cambodia for future generations.”

According to Pheaktra, to effectively protect the natural forest habitat of elephants, law enforcement needs to be strengthened to tackle illegal wildlife hunting and the use of snares.

The exploitation and unnecessary riding of elephants must be banned worldwide.

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