Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the country’s famed Angkor temple park by early 2020 which a rare win for conservationists who have long decried the popular practice as horrific and cruel.
According to NST, The Angkor archaeological complex in northern Siem Reap attracts the bulk of the kingdom’s foreign tourists ,in 2018 the number of tourists topped 6 million and many of them opt for elephants rides around the ancient temples.
But these rides “will end by the early of 2020“, said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority, which manages the park. He added “Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore. Moreover, some of the animals were old.”
Some of the elephants are injured during training and rights groups have accused handlers of overworking them.
In 2016, a female elephant died by the roadside after carrying tourists around the Angkor Wat temple complex in severe hot weather around 40°C. The animal claimed had been working for around 45 minutes before she collapsed.
The elephant’s death at that time made waves after a photo of her, lying on the ground, went viral on social media, prompting people to ask the Apsara Authority to ban elephant rides at the site.
So far, 5 of the 14 working elephants have been transferred to a community forest about 40 kilometres away from the temples.
“They will live out their natural lives there,” Kosal said.
The company that owns the elephants will continue to look after them, he added.