Animals Asia signs historic agreement to end elephant riding in Dak Lak, Vietnam and rescues another elephant

17 December 2021

In an historic and ground-breaking move that could set a precedent for other provinces and countries, Animals Asia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dak Lak province in Vietnam to end elephant riding.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is an official agreement between the Dak lak government and Animals Asia. The government has agreed to end elephant riding tourism and other activities which affect elephant welfare and human safety, including the use of elephants in certain events at festivals. The MOU also agrees to implement ethical, elephant-friendly tourism activities in their place.

Currently, there are 32 elephants used for tourism riding in Vietnam, with 27 of these in Dak Lak. This will effectively end in Vietnam the outdated practice of using elephants to give tourist rides which negatively impacts their physical, mental and psychological health, as well as being a safety risk for humans.

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Although Animals Asia has been working with local elephant owners and the government for many years on a case-by-case basis to rescue individual elephants, this official understanding means the Vietnamese government is in full support of Animals Asia  working to end elephant riding in Vietnam forever.

Dave Neale, Animals Asia’s Director of Animal Welfare who leads Animals Asia’s campaign to end elephant riding in Vietnam said, “Vietnam is leading the way in ethical elephant tourism. We hope that other countries will take notice and understand that the moral landscape of tourism is changing as more people become aware of the cruelty involved in using wild animals for human entertainment.”

Dave continued, “We are committed to working with elephant owners and tour operators to transition away from the riding tourism model towards ethical elephant tourism which will both ensure the welfare of the elephants while providing a regular income for their owners.”

Although elephant riding will stop in Dak Lak, this doesn’t automatically mean we can rescue the elephants.

Another elephant joins our herd

We’re also delighted to announce that we’ve rescued another ex-riding elephant to our ethical elephant project at the Yok Don National Park and are in the last stages of negotiating the release of another elephant who we hope to welcome later in the year.

32-year old ex-riding elephant Kham Vath came into our care earlier this month and he seems to be settling in well. He’s been exploring his new, vast surroundings, foraging and roaming while his mahout, Y Grơng Knul, quietly follows close by to make sure he’s safe.

We’re incredibly excited that Kham Vath is already communicating with fellow resident bull, Thong Kham. Although they’re not ‘together’, they’re getting to know each other from a safe distance and we’re hopeful for a blossoming relationship between the two.

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Read more:

National Park stops elephant rides with new tourism model designed to end elephant exploitation in Vietnam
The truth about elephant riding