PHNOM PENH, 12 June 2019: Cambodia will ban elephant rides at the Angkor Wat Historical Park in Siem Reap by early 2020.
The report first appeared in the UK Metro an online news service at the weekend confirming the 14 elephants employed to offer rides to tourists visiting the World Heritage site would be retired next year.
They will be moved to a conservation and breeding centre according to the Angkor Elephant Group Committee.
A backlash against elephant rides has gathered momentum in Southeast Asia prompting leading tour operators to remove the rides from their tour programmes.
In 2016, an elephant collapsed and died while ferrying two tourists to the ancient temple sites sparking outrage, while two years later, a petition to end elephant rides gained over 14,000 signatures in just 48 hours after another animal died from exhaustion.
The Angkor Elephant Group Committee director Oan Kiry, 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.”
The committee says there are around 70 domestic elephants in Cambodia, while experts believe there are around 500 in the wild.