According to Metro, tourists visiting the famous Angkor Wat temple can no longer go on elephant rides at Cambodia’s most visited tourist destination.
This ban comes after an elephant at Angkor Wat collapsed and died while carrying two tourists on its back 3 years ago in 2016. Then, in 2018, another elephant reportedly died of exhaustion. These deaths prompted a petition calling for elephant rides to stop, which garnered international attention and gained over 14,000 signatures in just 2 days.
Now, it has been confirmed by the Angkor Elephant Group Committee that in early 2020, the 14 elephants currently at the tourist site will be transferred to a conservation and breeding centre. The committee’s director was quoted as saying,
“In early 2020, our association plans to end the use of elephants to transport tourists.”
“They can still watch the elephants and take photos of them in our conservation and breeding centre. We want the elephants to live in as natural a manner as possible.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from animal rights group, Moving Animals, expressed relief over this recent ban, saying,
“The end of elephant rides at Angkor Wat is truly a watershed moment that shows the tide is turning against cruel wildlife tourism. More and more tourists no longer want to pay to see animals in chains or captivity, and attractions where elephant riding continues, need to ban these rides if they are to stay in favour with tourists and animal lovers.”
This is definitely a good move in ensuring the protection of a vulnerable species, and we hope more countries in the region follow suit!
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