The population of Asian elephants and their habitat is rapidly declining. With less than 1,000 left in the wild in Thailand, but around 3,000 in captivity, we are one of the few viable alternatives to the reality of their domesticated future within detrimental tourist camps.
Please note, this is an ethical volunteer program and we do not partake in riding elephants, demonstrating unnatural skills, or interacting hands-on with the elephants more than necessary.
Your contribution will help to keep these elephants in protected forests, continue the conservation of these beautiful animals and their habitats, provide funding to keep the project running, and offer alternative livelihoods to the local community. The goal of this project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living, socializing, and foraging in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts around their local village.
Our volunteer project aims to provide an alternative way for the elephants to bring in money for the local village while continuing to lead healthy lives that will ensure their long term conservation and survival.
A Typical Day
You will quickly learn that village life takes its own pace, rising with the sun in the morning and relaxing later in the day. After volunteers and staff convene at base early morning for a shared breakfast and quick morning meeting about the day’s activities, the mahouts lead groups of volunteers and staff out to where the elephants have stayed overnight in the forest.
Occasionally you will have the opportunity to assist with a quick but thorough health inspection of the elephants, providing a few minutes of close contact time to truly appreciate the beauty and size of our elephants. The rest of your hike involves following the elephants as they move through the forest, socialising and foraging as they would naturally. During our time observing the elephants in the forest, interns and long term volunteers collect data on their social interactions with one another and what food sources they are using, as well as survey forest biodiversity such as gibbons, deer, snakes, birds, and a variety of insects and spiders.
Volunteers will also have the opportunity to occasionally have lunch in the forest. Not only will we bring our packed lunches to share with the group in the forest, but volunteers are encouraged to assist the Mahouts in cooking a few more dishes in the field using all natural materials. After adequate time to observe the elephants and eat lunch, we hike back to the village for the rest of the day’s activities.
Afternoons in the village vary every day of the week, with opportunities to get involved in the community and build relationships among the villagers, fellow volunteers, and the staff team. Volunteers are highly encouraged to help teach English at the local school, weave baskets with a local community member, play football with the Mahouts, cook with their homestay families, and make the most of such an amazing project in such a remote and beautiful area. We also work with women in small women's groups and local children at the nursery!
Volunteers typically work Monday through Friday, with Saturday and Sunday being either travel days back to Chiang Mai or as days off to relax around the village. Your accommodation is very basic within the traditional community, so you should be prepared to adapt and appreciate living conditions that are sure to be very different than your home country.