Elephant Volunteer Project | Sri Lanka
Elephant volunteering program in an elephant friendly & cruelty free center in Sri Lanka
Elephant Volunteer Project | Sri Lanka
Always wanted to join an Elephant Volunteer project and be a part of a good cause for these magnificent animals?
Volunteer with Elephants in Sri Lanka, at this Elephant Volunteer project that is trying to change Elephant Care in Sri Lanka! In Sri Lanka, many elephants are exploited in the tourist industry to gain profits. There are plenty of elephant centres in Sri Lanka which provide elephant rides, elephant performances, elephant paintings and many other unnatural acts of an elephant, to gain income from tourists. When these centres are closed for the day, these elephants often undergo cruel training from the mahouts.
This Sri Lankan elephant volunteer project is against such treatment towards these elephants, thus a centre is created to protect the elephants and allow them to roam freely and behave the natural elephant way, with no chains attached during the day.
The centre welcomes elephant volunteers to help out with the maintenance of the centre and taking care of the needs of their two elephants.
The programme also includes visits to the local community to teach English which is a great way to get to know more about the culture and the community.
Besides that, the programme attracts many volunteers with great love and passion for the elephants, thus it is a good opportunity to meet other international volunteers with the same interest as yours.
If you like elephants and do not mind getting dirty and sweaty, come join us in Sri Lanka.
At the project site we have a 2500 sqm enclosure specially created for the elephants to be without chains. We like them to spend most of their time in the enclosure free from chains and happily roaming around.
Unfortunately the elephants have to cross the street to go bathing in the river. We also take them on elephant walks through the rural area to get their recommended exercise. Here, in these places, we must use the chain or rope for public safety. We use chains less and less though. The last weeks we didn’t use the chains at all when walking around!
Just like when we see people walking their dogs using the leash, the Sri Lankan public and mahouts (elephant keepers) feel that chains or ropes bring safety and security, and give control over the elephant.
It is hugely encouraging to see more and more people come out of their houses to enjoy the elephants when we are walking through the rural areas, even if the elephants are unchained. This change in mind set is a great leap forwards in animal welfare in Sri Lanka.
View brochure here!
– School groups volunteer
If you don’t have the opportunity to volunteer but had always wanted to do something for a good cause, why not fundraise for these projects! Visit our Fundraising page for more info or write to us here
Facebook Meet Up App
Find other volunteers whom will be volunteering with you using our Facebook Meet Up App
1 week MYR2500 (approx. £460)
2 weeks MYR3620 (approx. £670)
3 weeks MYR4185 (approx. £775)
4 weeks MYR4750 (approx. £880)
MYR – Malaysian Ringgit
Optional add ons: Airport pick up/ drop off – MYR 220 (approx. £40) per trip
A shared room at the homestay
Three meals a day
Onsite English speaking coordinator.
Transport between the project and the temple school and/or disabled home.
Full induction on day one including safety rules when working with elephants and an explanation on cultural norms and values
Ecoteer Responsible Travel Lifetime membership
Insurance; Visa; Air tickets, airport transfers (can be arranged upon request with additional charges)
Please allow a minimum of 3 weeks for us to process your application and payment.
Please make an initial inquiry by telling us about yourself and what project you would like to join. Contact us here
To make a booking, please contact us here. We will then email you back with more information and the application form. Please complete the form and send back to us so we can confirm your reservation and inform you how to make the deposit payment. If the deposit is not received within 2 weeks from the date your reservation is placed, your reservation will be cancelled automatically. Full payment is required no later than 1 month before departure. You may pay online by credit card or a direct transfer to our account. Once a deposit has been paid we will email you our Know Before You Go guide, which will give you useful information to help you prepare to volunteer.
a. Cancellation of reservation must be made in writing to avoid any misunderstanding. If the company receives notice to cancel 30 days or more before the date of departure, a minimum administrative fee of RM100.00 or 10% of the tour deposit (whichever is lower) per person will be levied.
b. If notice of the cancellation is received 29 days or less before the date of departure the following charges will apply:
c. 15 – 29 working days before the date of departure = 50% of deposit
8 – 14 working days before the date of departure = 20% of FULL COST
3 – 7 working days before the date of departure = 40% of FULL COST
2 working days or less before the date of departure = 100% of FULL COST
Feed the elephants – The elephant food are obtained from the eco-garden. Feeding the elephants is a great way to bond with the elephants and learning about their behaviour.
Maintain cleanliness of the elephants & its enclosures – Even though volunteers need to get their hands dirty for this activity, it is very important to keep the elephants and their enclosures clean as it lowers the chances of the elephants from falling ill.
Creating enrichment games – Enrichment encompasses a variety of items or activities designed to encourage the natural behaviors of animals living in captivity. Objects with hidden food, sounds and/or scents compel the animals to explore with their senses and natural instincts, while benefiting from important physical and mental stimulation that enhances their health and well being.
Maintain the eco garden – Most of the elephant food are obtained from the eco garden thus volunteers are required to help maintain the garden.
Teach English to the community – Through these English classes, volunteers will have to create fun & interactive lesson plans for the children in the local school. We hope that through these classes, the children will be able to learn more about animal conservation & environmental issues.
Learn to cook Sri Lankan dishes & explore the local environment – During volunteers free time, volunteers are free to explore and learn about the Sri Lankan culture & traditions.
Homestay with a local family
Shared volunteer accommodation with bunk beds
Volunteer accommodation is located beside the project area
– en-suite bathrooms with cold showers & western style toilets
– Clothes lockers
– Each room has fans & mosquito nets
– Free fast internet with wifi
– Washing machine & drying area
– Water purifier, oven, water cooker for tea/ coffee
– A television with several English channels
– DVD player
– Outdoor area where volunteers can sit, relax & interact
– Every weekends, volunteer rooms & bathrooms will be cleaned by the staff onsite.
– Volunteers are expected to change the bed linen themselves and also keep their rooms tidy at all time.
– Fresh Sri Lankan food which are prepared daily: Lots of rice, curry, vegetable & fruits.
– Cater for vegetarians is possible.
– Breakfast is usually bread.
– BBQ on Thursdays
NOTE: Volunteers are not allowed to approach the elephant without the mahout for safety reasons.
- Arrivals are preferably to be on a Sunday, however we do accept volunteer arrival on any of the day as well.
1. What are the requirements to join this volunteering project?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English to be able to communicate with the facilitator. Minimum age requirement is 18 years old. Volunteers should also have a positive attitude and willing to participate in all task given to them.
2. Do I need to apply for visa to join?
If you are coming to Sri Lanka for 30 days and less then you will need to apply for your visa in advance of arrival. This can all be done on line and will cost $20 per person. You can pay by credit card and track the progress of your application which should take 24hours. You’ll then receive approval which we recommend printing and taking a copy with you to show at passport control. You can also apply via your local embassy.
The application website: http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/visainfo/center.jsp?locale=en_US
You can obtain a visa upon arrival in Sri Lanka, you will need to head to the Electronic Travel Authorization counter at the airport, fill in the forms and pay a fee of $25.
3. Is this program suitable for families with children?
This elephant conservation program is suitable for families with children.
4. Do you use chains on the elephants?
We have a 2500 sqm enclosure specially created for the elephants to be without chains. We like them to spend most of their time in the enclosure free from chains and happily roaming around. Unfortunately the elephants have to cross the street to go bathing in the river. We also take them on elephant walks through the rural area to get their recommended exercise. Here, in these places, we must use the chain for public safety. Just like when we see people walking their dogs using the leash, the Sri Lankan public and mahouts (elephant keepers) feel that chains bring safety and security, and give control over the elephant. Even though within our enclosure the elephants can’t do any harm but are unchained still is freighting to the villagers and mahouts. We are however slowly changing the way they feel. It is hugely encouraging to see more and more people come out of their houses to enjoy the elephants when we are walking through the rural areas, even if the elephants are unchained. This change in mind set is a great leap forwards in animal welfare in Sri Lanka.
5. Do you use the bull hook?
We don’t like the bull hook and discourage the use strongly. It is a horrid device often misused to abuse elephants. However when the elephants are in a public place, outside of the elephant enclosure, we have to bring it along as it gives a sense of security to the Sri Lankan public and the mahouts (elephant keepers) alike. Without showing the bull hook to the public they may object to the sanctuary.
Although our mahouts carry the device at times, it is rarely used to touch the elephants and they are absolutely forbidden to use it in any manner that may harm the elephant. At the project we are encouraging the mahouts to leave the bull hook at home, but changing age old ways does take time. To our sadness the bull hook is actively used at many other places in the country to harm the elephant.
6. What happens to the elephants at night?
Our new elephant enclosure will allow our elephants to roam freely day and night within. The enclosure is not yet completed. The construction of the gates and the mahout (elephant keeper) house next to the gate will enable the elephants to remain inside and be unchained at night. Whilst eagerly awaiting the completion of these parts the elephants need to be chained at night for safety of the public.
7. Why are there sometimes no elephants at the project?
Only a few people can own elephants in Sri Lanka. Almost all captive elephants you see in Sri Lanka are rented by wood logging camps, elephant safaris and our conservation project alike. When renting elephants the owner has the power to use them for special occasions such as a Perahera (religious festival).
Our elephants, being two babies, are super cute and very popular. It may therefore happen that, just like at any other project in Sri Lanka, one or both elephants will be away from the project for a day (or two in the very worst case).
Owning an elephant will minimize this, but at times, such as with the opening of the Commonwealth meeting of 2013, we could still be ordered by high government officials to send the elephants to participate.
The current owner however does understand the importance of the project and tries to minimize the disruption to the elephants by for example sending only one elephant for a (religious) festival.
8. Elephants are rented?
Only a few people can own elephants in Sri Lanka. Almost all captive elephants you see in Sri Lanka are rented by wood logging camps, elephant safaris and our conservation project alike. Renting an elephant is expensive!
- To make an enquiry or to book, kindly email us using our Contact Us form.
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