After serving the tourist sector at Angkor resort for years, five out of the 14 elephants from the Angkor elephant community were transported to live in a natural habitat, said Apsara National Authority spokesman Long Kosal on Sunday.
Kosal said the elephants, an attraction that served as a mode of transport in Angkor resort, had given national and international tourists a lot of wonderful memories.
However, in an effort to provide a natural living environment for them and to promote sustainable tourism, it was necessary to stop using them as a mode of transport in the tourism industry.
Kosal said that the authority aimed to stop the use of elephants to transport tourists by early 2020. However, tourists can still visit the protected natural habitat to pet the elephants and take photos.”
He said other elephants in the Angkor resort will also be transported to the new location at Bos Thom village, Khnar Por commune, Sotr Nikum district in Siem Reap province from November 14 onwards. All [the elephants] will be relocated before the end of 2020.
Angkor elephant association general manager Un Kiri told The Post that the new location has a biodiverse environment of natural forests and streams.
Kiri said that there are two bull elephants aged between 30 and 60 years old out of the 14 from the Angkor elephant association.
He said: “Elephants aged between 30 and 45 or 50 years old can still breed, but elephants are different from other animals because they are as shy as humans.”
Wild Earth Allies Cambodia programme director Tuy Sereivathana supports the initiative to stop the use of elephants to transport tourists.
“As an animal conservationist, we do not welcome the use of animals in any business, especially using elephants to pull or transport people as they are endangered.
“On the contrary, we are happy to support any activity that protects and promotes a natural habitat for animals,” he said.
Sereivathana said taking elephants to live in a new location, which is similar to their natural habitat is part of promoting the wellbeing of animals.
“We believe that through giving good care to the elephant community, they will have good health which leads to more breeding.”
Ten years ago, there were an estimated 200 elephants in Cambodia. But as they could not reproduce and due to old age, a lack of care and food, they subsequently died. The Kingdom only has around 70 elephants today.