Due to the pressure from animal activist groups, Apsara, the management for the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia announced in June 2019 that it would ban elephant rides in early 2020.
Now, the implementation is being started.
Two of the 14 elephants that are located at the park, which is the site of the popular tourist spot Angkor Wat temple, have been relocated from the UNESCO Site to the nearby Bos Thom community forest, according to a report from Khmer Times.
The report detailed that the remaining 12 elephants will be moved to the same forest by “early next year.”
“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,” Apsara press representative Long Kosal said. “We want them to live in their natural surroundings.”
On the other hand, Angkor Enterprise, which manages park admissions, said that the UNESCO-listed site is facing a decline in tourist numbers. Its latest report says 1.8 million foreign tourists bought passes to the temple complex from January to September — a 13.7% decline over the same 10-month period in 2018.
Still, there’s no prediction whether this ban can really affect the number of travelers that visit the famous site.
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