Elephant audit gets thumbs up
Retired pachyderm haven Kulen Elephant Forest has notched up another first for Cambodia after becoming an Asian Captive Elephant Standards (ACES) ‘Certified Facility’ as part of a programme coordinated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the Pacific Asia Travel Association.
For the past year the elephant park has been thoroughly audited by Aces, the leaders in elephant venue auditing, welfare assessments and camp certification and the link between elephant conservation and elephant tourism.
The audit covered 193 criteria in eight different areas including elephant welfare, elephant interaction, community relations and biodiversity, and conservation. The result of this audit was the awarding of a silver-level certification, representing the satisfaction of 100% of the mandatory criteria and 70%-plus of the advanced criteria.
“This has been quite the journey, but it is so rewarding to see that our management system, staff expertise, and park facilities meet a professionally-backed international standard,” Kulen Elephant Forest French-Cambodian co-founder David-Jaya Piot says.
“Personally, this accreditation is the culmination of five years of hard work and careful planning, and it is all the more rewarding to see ourselves attain these standards through the pandemic period, in the face of odds that we thought impossible to face.
“I am so thankful for our team, our director Ori Leav, and especially for Dan Koehl, our elephant welfare director, whose systems have taken our operations to the next level, and who this year celebrated his 50th year working with elephants.”
David says that part of the reason for the successful audit was that, right from the beginning, he and his team’s modus operandi was in line with the criteria later established by Aces.
“We were fortunate that our operations and facilities were already conceived in accordance with Ace’s criteria,” he says. “Our operational philosophy was already very much in line with Ace’s expectations, and this meant that we only had to continue and improve what we were already doing.”