Animal protection in Cambodia – Why you should never ride an elephant and other tips.


It is understandable that people are fascinated by and want more experiences with elephants. Many camps and tourist parks make a lot of money from visitors keen to have photos taken with an elephant, bathing with the elephants or other activities with them. But these experiences affect them tremendously. Elephants are often overworked, underfed and beaten or otherwise harmed to train them to perform for visitors.

Despite a growing move away from the controversial practice of elephant riding, elephant experience tours are countless in Cambodia and many experts show how much these experiences can really affect the elephant’s health.

Indeed to start the taming process, wild elephants are removed from their herds and subjected to totally un-natural conditions. It stands to reason that there will be problems when young elephants are taken away from their mothers, siblings, and forced to live in solitary conditions, away from their natural, highly social family groups. For example, if you see an elephant swaying a lot you know the animal is stressed.

The conditions in the camps where elephants are kept vary but are far from being flawless. The elephants are restrained by ropes or chains so that their movement is limited. These horrible conditions restrict them from forming proper social relationships as they would in the wild and then they can either become aggressive (in which case they are generally killed) or they just give up and become passive.

Elephants are intelligent, highly sociable animals and they belong in the wild, not in captivity. We ask you to join us in respecting the welfare of elephants and to refrain from participating in irresponsible wildlife tourism such as elephant riding, shows or performance. You may also wish to check your tour provider’s policies and avoid those that book elephant rides or tours.

Support animal protection in Cambodia and welfare of elephants by not participating in elephant riding trips or similar activities!



In addition to the riding experience, elephant poaching is a huge threat. They are killed for their tusks, meat and skin. Elephant products are also used in traditional Asian medicines.

Despite worldwide protection through the Convention on International trade in Endangered Species (CITES), elephants are still poached. The poaching and selling of endangered animals is a crime, so please take care not to encourage this awful trade in any way.

Aside from wildlife souvenirs, you should be aware that some restaurants serve “wild meat”. This could be deer (red muntjac and sambar), monitor lizard, turtle or porcupine amongst other wildlife! This is outlawed, but still widespread.

So, when ordering a meat based dish, it is well to ask which meat is used and where it came from!



In Cambodia, there are different traditions and rules about food. Thus, you might see on some restaurant menus the option of eating dog as a food.

Few Cambodian people eat this meat, and if they do it may be because of the various medicinal powers attributed to meat.

Dog meat may be from “farmed” dogs or from strays that have been rounded up and slaughtered. Therefore, you need to be careful; dog meat is real risk to human health.

Outbreaks of diseases such as trichinellosis, cholera and rabies are still prevalent. Hence, the Central Bureau of Preventative Health and the World health organisation (WHO) state that eating dog meat increases the risk of contracting a disease, especially when the meat is not thoroughly cooked.

The consumption of dog meat in Cambodia is still low, but it is becoming more popular and it is increasing due to the cultural traditions coming from Vietnam, Korea and Laos. Eating dog meat is legal in Cambodia and some use it as an alternative source of protein.

Fortunately, it is still rare to find dog-meat in Phnom Penh’s conventional restaurants or supermarkets.



As human beings, we are used to the idea of “companion animals” and our first desire is often to touch or stroke an animal. In Cambodia, as other countries in Asia, you should think twice before touching an animal; it could be dangerous for them and for you!

There is a wide range, some animals are domesticated, others are feral (and thus more dangerous) and of course some are semi-domesticated or even wild. There are many animals that seem accustomed to humans, but it does not mean that they are fully domesticated or safe to touch.



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