Cambodia will ban elephant rides at Angkor Wat, Cambodia’s biggest attraction, in 2020.
Over 2.5 million tourists visit the temple complex every year, with many clamouring to embark on an elephant ride in spite of the animals’ suffering.
However, soon the 14 elephants at Angkor Wat will no longer be overworked for the sake of tourism as the Angkor Elephant Group Committee has confirmed they will be moved to a conservation and breeding centre by early 2020.
STAE is delighted to reiterate that the awful Angkor Wat resort in Cambodia is planning to drop the use of elephants in tourism. The horrors include this tragic incident: https://t.co/wblJuOH42X
We will report on further developments & keep pressing for a ban on brutal ads. pic.twitter.com/x45NixYyJB
— Save The Asian Elephants (@stae_elephants) June 12, 2019
The announcement comes three years after an elephant collapsed and died while carrying two tourists to the famous Cambodian temple.
At the time, The Independent reported a veterinarian examined the elephant and determined it died ‘due to high temperatures, heat exhaustion and lack of wind that would have helped to cool her’.
Just two years later another animal died from exhaustion.
The tragic events sparked outrage across the world and in the 48 hours following the second elephant’s death, a petition to end elephant rides gained over 14,000 signatures.
#GoodNews – #Elephant rides to stop at Angkor Wat in #Cambodia by 2020. The 14 elephants will no longer be forced to work at the Angkor Wat Temple where over 2.5 million international tourists visit each year. They will all be transferred to a conservation & breeding center pic.twitter.com/rMwfP1NJRO
— WCFF (@WCFF_org) June 10, 2019
According to the Metro, Oan Kiry, director of the Angkor Elephant Group Committee, explained tourists would still be able to see the elephants but the animals wouldn’t be worked harshly. Instead, they will live more naturally at the conservation centre.
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.
BIG NEWS: The use of elephants in Angkor Wat is due to end in 2020, meaning retirement for all the elephants who are forced to give rides at Cambodia's famous tourist attraction.
— PETA UK (@PETAUK) June 11, 2019
Campaign group Moving Animals, which works to raise awareness of the cruelty behind elephant riding, has expressed their delight at the move, calling it a ‘great relief’.
A spokesperson said:
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.
— Angels for Elephants (@occupy4eles) June 13, 2019
It’s believed there are still around 70 domesticated elephants in Cambodia, while experts believe there are roughly 500 in the wild, includes around 110 living in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and nearly 200 in the Cardamom Mountains.
Hopefully the ban on elephant rides will ensure the animals are treated with the respect they deserve in future.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.