By 2020, Elephant rides will be prohibited at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat – one of the largest and busiest tourist attractions in South East Asia
It attracts more than 2.5 million international tourists each year, with elephant rides used as a way to ferry paying tourists around nearby areas. But finally, after years of campaigning, there is to be a ban on elephant rides at the Cambodian temple, and the 14 elephants still used to carry tourists will be retired.
‘To live as naturally as possible’
Oan Kiry, director of the Angkor Elephant Committee says: “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.”
The elephants exploited at the religious site have been involved in a number of media reports and tourist backlash over the years. In 2016, Metro reported on an elephant who died carrying two tourists through the ancient temple.
Two years later, a petition was created to end elephant rides, earning more than 14,000 signatures – it came following the death of another elephant from exhaustion.
Whilst the ban won’t officially be in place until 2020, it marks a great step towards better animal welfare and treatment in the country.
Moving Animals, a non-profit that documents and shares images of animal exploitation from around the globe, called the decision to end Angkor Wat’s elephant rides a “watershed moment” for the animal tourism industry.
The spokesperson continued: “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.”
Let’s hope that the rest of the travel and animal tourism industry takes note and follows suit.