Centara Hotels & Resorts

Published on Monday, June 10, 2019

Angkor Wat ending elephant rides

Cambodia's most popular tourist attraction is set to ban 'cruel' elephant rides.

The rides have been a fixture at the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap for years but opposition against it has been building in recent years.

The 14 elephants will be retired and transferred to a conservation and breeding centre by early next year, The Angkor Elephant Group Committee said.

"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," said Oan Kiry, director of the Angkor Elephant Group Committee.

In 2016, and again in 2018, an elephant collapsed and died at Angkor Wat, causing a backlash against elephant rides which has seen their popularity dwindle over time.

The move has been welcomed by animal rights groups.

"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," said campaign group Moving Animals.

Cambodia has a population of about 500 elephants still living in the wild, mostly in Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and in the Cardamom Mountains.

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