Cambodia to ban elephant rides in Angkor Wat

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In a fantastic move to prevent cruelty to animals and to stop animal abuse, the Asian nation of Cambodia will ban all elephant rides at the famed Angkor temple park by early next year.

Following intense pressure from animal rights groups, the management authority for the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap in Cambodia – Apsara – had announced in June 2019 that the elephant rides would be prohibited.

Now, the process has begun.

According to the Jakarta Post, five of the fourteen elephants that would work at the temple have been transferred to the Bos Thom community forest a few kilometres away from the temple.

“Using elephants for business is not appropriate anymore,” said Long Kosal, a spokesman with the Apsara Authority to AFP, adding that some of the animals were “already old.”

“The elephant is a big animal, but it is also gentle and we don’t want to see the animals being used for tourism activities anymore,” Kosal said. “We want them to live in their natural surroundings.”

He also said that the other elephants will also be moved to the same forest by early next year.

Angkor Wat, a UNESCO-listed site, is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Asia and is visited by millions of tourists each year, who enjoy the elephant rides across the temples.

Unfortunately, in 2016, an elephant named Sambo died at Angkor Wat. Her untimely death was attributed to exhaustion due to ferrying tourists at very high temperatures. This drew worldwide attention, with many animal rights groups calling for the prohibition of such rides.

With this initiative to ban elephant rides, Angkor Wat joins thousands of other tourist sites across the world that are looking to stop animal abuse.

Earlier in the year, ticketing portal TripAdvisor announced that it would stop selling tickets of tourist attractions that breed or import captive cetaceans such as porpoises, whales and dolphins used for public display.

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