Code of Conduct
For visitors to the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area
This Code of Conduct outlines regulations to adhere to during visits to the Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area (VSSPCA) and for viewing the group of habituated gibbons and wild loris. These rules are considered to be minimum guidelines for tourists, researchers and staff visiting the site. These have been adopted from IUCN Species Survival Commission’s publication Best Practice Guidelines for Great Ape Tourism and are put into place to help mitigate impacts on the forest and wildlife as much as possible.
The following rules apply to all tour groups. These are for your safety and for the health of the animals. Please do not hesitate to contact staff or researchers should you have any questions.
Before You Set Out
- A maximum of 6 tourists in each group, excluding local guides and local trackers. This controls the risk of human impacts and optimizes your chances of viewing the gibbon group and loris.
- The minimum age of visitors for gibbon and loris-viewing is 15 years old. However a parent or guardian will have to sign the consent form on behalf of the minor.
- Although there is no maximum age limit, gibbon and loris-viewing and trekking in the VSSPCA can be physically demanding and we request that visitors are in sufficient physical condition to endure hiking in forests without trails and in hot humid conditions. Please carefully consider your decision to trek as health services near the VSSPCA are limited.
Behavior at Base Camp and in the VSSPCA
- Base camp with tour accommodation is situated approximately 2km from the gibbon-viewing site and within the VSSPCA. The camp is located in the forest and it is not uncommon to encounter wild animals in the camp or on paths. Wild animals are potentially dangerous and should always be treated with respect.
- Visitors should wear comfortable outdoor clothes of neutral colors preferably long trousers and long-sleeved tops. Avoid wearing visibly colorful clothes in the forest and while viewing the gibbons, this includes bright red, yellow, white, bright blue, etc.
- Do not leave base camp and walk alone into the forest without informing someone.
- Do not cut or collect any living organisms. This includes flowers, leaves, seeds, insects, etc.
- Leave no trace of your presence behind. If you brought it in, please take it out with you. Do not litter.
- Please use the designated latrines and wash your hands at base camp before your visit to the gibbon-viewing site. Avoid using the forest as a toilet if at all possible. If not, please bury solid waste in areas away from trails and water sources.
- No pets can be brought to the forest or the base camp.
- Please respect Cambodian and indigenous culture, female visitors are not allowed to wear short skirts, have exposed shoulders or wear any other revealing clothing.
- Please keep the base camp clean all the time, and keep noise to a respectful level.
When You are with the Gibbons
- There is only one opportunity per trek to see the Gibbons. This minimizes potential behavioral disturbances and associated stress to the gibbons. Gibbon viewing will continue for up to three hours, but may last considerably shorter than this depending on the behavior of the animals.
- Visitors must remain with their guides at all times. Gibbons can move rapidly in the canopy so it is important to keep close to the tour group to avoid getting lost. Follow the instructions and advice of the guides.
- Do not eat during the visit to the gibbon-viewing site. Leave all food and drinks other than water at base camp. Do not attempt to feed the gibbons.
- Smoking and littering are prohibited in the forest. Never leave food or any man-made product on the ground. Transport all rubbish back out of the forest.
- Avoid using flash photography, artificial lights and keep any equipment noise to a minimum.
- All cell phones should remain off while in the presence of the gibbons.
- Try to move quietly and vigilantly in the forest. Never run or shout while in proximity to wildlife. You will see much more.
- Avoid making any noises or other disturbances in the forest. Use a low voice to speak while in the presence of the gibbons.
- The gibbons will make eye contact and are habituated to the presence of humans following them, however, do not attempt to attract their attention for a photo opportunity or for any other reason. Refrain from calling out, luring and making sudden movements as this can cause stress and disrupts their natural behavior.
- The gibbons remain in the canopy the majority of the time, however, if they descend please do not try to approach, touch or attempt make physical contact with them.
- The gibbons are not aggressive towards humans but are naturally territorial. Do not provoke them or disturb their activities in any way.
When Viewing Loris and Hiking at Night
- All above rules apply to night hikes in the VSSPCA.
- Guides will lead visitors on a night hike for approximately 1 hour to try to view loris and other nocturnal animals. Contact time with encountered loris will be limited to 20 minutes in order to reduce the stress on the animals, but may be considerably shorter based on the actions of the animal.
- Visitors must remain with their guides at all times. Trails are difficult to follow at night, it is important to stay with the group. As with gibbon-viewing, follow the instructions and advice of the guides.
- After animals are encountered, please try to avoid shining your flashlight in their eyes. Allow the guide to illuminate the animal with his light. This will reduce the stress on the animal.
- Remain at least 5 meters from loris. Never approach, touch or attempt to make physical contact with them.
- For the best chance to view wildlife at night silence is necessary as well as keeping a distance of about 10 metres from the person in front, take note not to drift too far from the group.
When in the Villages
- Modest dress is the rule in Cambodia, particularly for women. Although many tourists wear shorts to deal with the heat, in the villages women should not wear short skirts or show their shoulders.
- Society is still conservative. Public displays of affection are frowned upon and are considered impolite.
- Try to be mindful of local customs and take clues from your guide on appropriate behavior.
- When taking photographs, respect privacy by asking permission and use restraint.
- Help to support communities; however do not buy antiques which are indigenous family heirlooms. Handicrafts are available at markets.
- Please do not litter in the villages. Properly disposing of rubbish sets a good example.