Certifying Elephant Camps

In our 16th Anantara Hotels Resorts & Spas #ElephantProfessional lecture, Nicolas Dubrocard told us how a certification system could improve the welfare of both the animals and the people involved.

When Dubrocard was visiting the different elephant camps, he noticed a few recurring problems.

Sometimes the problem wasn’t that the mahouts and the management did not care about the elephants, but that they didn’t know how to properly care for the elephants, revealed Dubrocard.

This was further exacerbated by the misinformation from the media and the pressure by the customers.

Emotion vs science

“there is too much emotion and too little science [in the world of captive elephants],” expressed Dubrocard.

He used elephant riding and bathing with elephant as an example. While the media has taken on an acute angle on attacking elephant riding, Dubrocard consulted actual scientists and they realized that bathing with elephant was actually more likely to be detrimental to the elephant’s health than a properly conducted riding programme.


Bathing with elephant and elephant riding. Getty images

By putting in place a detailed set of science-backed guidelines, Dubrocard believed that the certification system could not only improve the welfare of the elephants, but also the mahouts.

The camp assessment criteria

The eight pillars of camp assessment. Screenshot from Dubrocard’s presentation.

The camp assessment included eight major pillars, namely general camp management, staff management, elephant welfare, elephant socialisation, camp quality, visitor safety, community relations, and conservation.

This set of criteria looks after not just the welfare of elephants, but equally the welfare and safety of staff, management, as well as visitors.

You can read more about their camp assessment guidelines and criteria here.

Disclaimer: the views and opinions expressed by the speaker do not necessarily represent Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.