Elephant Conservation Project
IFRE partners with an elephant conservation project which covers 15 acres of lush land to care for elephants that have been rescued from cruel situations such as working in the logging industry and poorly mannered tourism. As a volunteer in the elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka, you will be assigned an elephant to care for, learn their behaviors and create a meaningful relationship. Volunteers directly work with mahouts (elephant handlers) to ensure the elephants at the conservation project as well as elephants throughout Sri Lanka are healthy and happy. The elephant conservation project is always in need of able-bodied volunteers to provide optimal care for these gentle giants, as well as help with general operations of the conservation project, its tourism and an eco-farm. This project is a rare and amazing opportunity for hands-on experiences with elephants and experiencing the natural beauty and culture of Sri Lanka.
No specific qualifications are required to volunteer with the elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka. However, volunteers should have a deep love for animals, a hard-working attitude and a respect for the local staff and community members. Please note that this project requires volunteers to spend much of their time outdoors.
As a volunteer with the elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka, you may participate in a variety of activities as you work with mahouts (elephant handlers), local staff and local schools. The project focuses on four major areas where volunteers can participate in every aspect:
1 Caring for the Elephants: Volunteers help to provide daily care and treatment of elephants. You will be assigned an elephant and help to feed, bath and play with your new friend. In addition, volunteers are needed to assist the conservation project with administrative tasks and fundraising so that the project may run smoothly and adequate resources are available for elephant care. General maintenance of facilities will also be appreciated.
2 Eco-farm Project: The elephant conservation project has an eco-farm to grow healthy, fresh and organic produce and medicine for the elephants and for food used in the project’s’s restaurant (where volunteers will eat). The project focuses on an enrichment program to grow chemical-free fruits, vegetables and herbs and educates locals on the importance of healthy and organic foods. Uniquely, the project uses elephant-dung fertilizer instead of harmful chemicals and is hoping to help local farmers do the same. With this unique elephant product, the project hopes to help farmers produce organic goods without the high price of alternative farming. Volunteers will work in the eco-farm everyday to enhance the project and in turn, help to produce some of the food they will receive at the restaurant (where volunteers will receive three local meals included in the program).
3 Mobile Veterinary Unit (MVU): The elephant conservation project works with an MVU to transport veterinarians, volunteers and medical supplies throughout Sri Lanka to provide free medical treatment to elephants. Vet care can be vary costly, so the program focuses on providing assistance to elephant owners who may not otherwise be able to afford their elephant’snecessary care. The MVU is a more efficient and less costly way to care for all Sri Lankan elephants. The MVU may travel hundreds of miles a day, so this is a great opportunity for volunteers to see more of the country and gain direct veterinary experience.
4 After-school English Program: Volunteers help to lead English lessons for a community after-school program started by the elephant conservation project, who hopes to expand their educational programs in the future. Lessons are every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and are one hour long each. Student ages vary greatly, from very young to late twenties. The lessons are meant to be fun and interactive. No teaching experience is necessary.
On weekends and during free times, you will have the chance to travel throughout Sri Lanka and learn about the country’s culture, history, geography, etc.
In Sri Lanka, all volunteers working with the elephant conservation project will stay in either a volunteer bungalow or a volunteer jungle house. You will share a room with another volunteer and enjoy communal living spaces such as a basic kitchen, bathrooms with western-style toilets, showers, living spaces and a library. Volunteers will be provided with a washing machine, clean linens, towels and a mosquito net. The conservation project has an onsite restaurant where volunteers will receive 3 local meals a day. The restaurant also has a private volunteer lounge. Many meals are be made from the ingredients volunteers help grow and harvest in the eco-farm!
Throughout the volunteer project, our local staff stays in contact with volunteers with either face-to-face visits or via email/telephone and volunteers have 24/7 access to our in-country staff. With longer placements, we visit our volunteers every two weeks (when possible) and volunteers are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that volunteers stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone.