Standards & Criteria

Our History

The ACES vision began in 2015. There was a clear need to improve elephant welfare in southeast Asian elephant camps. The creation of the initial camp guidelines was jointly undertaken by organisations including Travelife, the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group, Chiang Mai University and the Pacific Asia Travel Association. From this we have developed a set of over 190 strict camp criteria. All criteria have been independently validated by international specialists in elephant management, veterinary care and training.

The ACES team have visited over 40 camps throughout southeast Asia to test our standards and to gain experience in country legislation, elephant welfare concerns, national considerations and endangered species issues.

We are confident that our camp standards are adaptable to each elephant range nation and can provide essential guidance and support to all camps to improve elephant welfare and camp management.

Camp Criteria and Evaluation

Our camp criteria has been developed and approved by Asia elephant veterinarians and camp experts, many of who are professional members of ACEWG. Camps must complete a minimum of >190 mandatory criteria before they can be considered eligible for ACES accreditation. Our evaluation criteria takes into consideration academic findings, evidence-based research, experts with years of onsite camp management experience, as well as our harm minimisation and reduction philosophy. 

Assessment criteria is broken down into eight sections and comprehensively examines all areas of camp management:

  1. CAMP MANAGEMENT. Elephant registration, unique ID books, microchips, camp annual reports, standard operational procedures.

  2. STAFF MANAGEMENT. Employee records, wages, insurance, training, sick & holiday entitlements, living quarters.

  3. ELEPHANT WELFARE. Individual dietary plans, veterinary care & routine health checks, body score conditions, control methodologies, general health, calves and calf management, musth management, geriatric management.

  4. ELEPHANT INTERACTIONS. Work schedule, bathing, riding, feeding, substrate, social contact & interactions.

  5. CAMP QUALITY. Energy usage, waste disposal, recycling.

  6. VISITOR SAFETY & EXPERIENCE. First aid, insurance, liability, amenities.

  7. COMMUNITY RELATIONS & BIODIVERSITY. Community engagement, ivory & forbidden products.

  8. CONSERVATION. Elephant education, socialisation, awareness.

Camp Assessment Rankings

Camp accreditation is structured into four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold & Conservation. Conservation qualifications are suitable for only a certain type of elephant camp and takes into consideration unique national circumstances. For example, captive breeding in Laos can be considered appropriate because of the very low number of wild and captive elephants remaining in-country. Camp managers are encouraged to contact us for detailed information about each level, and receive a complimentary service proposal. 


  • Bronze: 100% of the mandatory criteria and >50% of the advanced criteria.

  • Silver: 100% of the mandatory criteria and >70% of the advanced criteria.

  • Gold: 100% of the mandatory criteria and >90% of the advanced criteria.

  • Conservation: 100% of the mandatory criteria, >90% of the advanced criteria plus 16 conservation-specific criteria.