Angkor Wat, a tourist destination that over 2.5 million people pass through each year, is working to rescue a group of 14 elephants that have been exploited in the tourist industry. As confirmed by the Angkor Elephant group, within the year, they will be transferred to a conservation and breeding centre. They will no longer be forced to carry people around on paid rides.
In 2016, while carrying two tourists to a local attraction, an elephant collapsed and died. This raised waves internationally, bringing criticism from every part of the world upon this inhumane business. In 2018, a petition was raised to end elephant rides. This petition gained over 14000 signatures in less than 2 days after yet another elephant died of fatigue.
Oan Kiry, director of the Angkor Elephant Group Committee, said that this cruel practice will be abolished in early 2020. Tourists will still be able to take photographs of them, but no longer pay for rides.
A spokesperson for the group “Moving Animals” praised this change, marking this moment as the beginning of the end for cruel wildlife tourism.
According to recent studies, there are approximately 70 captive elephants in Cambodia, with another 500 or so in the wild. These numbers include some 110 elephants that are currently living in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary and almost 200 elephants in the Cardamom mountains.
Sadly, these numbers are steadily decreasing both in Cambodia in another neighboring countries. A result of illegal hunting and methodical destruction of these great animals’ habitats along with occasional conflicts with human beings, this decline threatens the very species’ existence.
As the Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra stated that the government is working with all relevant organization to protect this endangered species and to prevent further abuse.
He then further explained that local farmers need to be made aware of the effects of their actions, as they frequently make use of toxic chemicals on crops or even directly attack elephants that enter their territory.