Volunteer with Elephants – Surin
A genuine and unique opportunity to work with Thailand’s most revered creatures
|Project At A Glance
|Location: Surin, Thailand
Start Point: Bangkok
End Point: Surin
Duration: 1-4 Weeks
Hours: Live on site
Arrival Date: First Friday of the month
Food: Meals not included
Room: Shared volunteer house and home stay at the elephant village
One of the most amazing things about Surin is its elephants. You won’t be in the area long before you see one ‘parked’ on a roadside, shading itself from the heat of the day. Elephants are revered throughout Thailand and this project gives volunteers the unique opportunity not only to get up close and personal with them, but also to live in a genuine Thai community and directly experience Thai life.
Throughout Asia, Surin is known as the Elephant Province as it’s home to over 400. The elephants were originally captured from wild jungles and used as farming ‘machinery’ by Surin’s founding fathers. Now that logging has been outlawed, these elephants have become redundant. These elephants are extremely expensive to look after as a fully-grown elephant eats over 400kgs of food each day. Many elephant owners (known as Mahouts) have sold their elephants or taken them to the streets of big cities to beg for money from tourists, which is illegal, very dangerous and harmful for the elephants.
Located on the outskirts of the Surin Province lies the farming community of Tha-Tum. This community is home to approximately 250 people and over 30 elephants. Through hard work we have now reached an agreement that by supporting this village with volunteers, elephant food, community projects and financial support, the Mahouts won’t sell their elephants and they will remain in the village with full support.
No skills or requirements are needed to volunteer in IFRE’s Elephant Project in Thailand. Volunteers are expected to be flexible, patient and possess a passion and love for animals. You will get wet and dirty on this project so having the ability to live outside of your comfort zone is also recommended.
Our volunteers will have a very hands-on experience in this project. Not only will volunteers learn to interact with elephants by riding them, washing them, feeding them and so on, volunteers will also spend three nights each week living in the home of the village elder and his family. This is a totally unique opportunity to see how life operates on a day-to-day basis. Learn to cook Thai food, fish, work on the farms, kayak on the local river and interact with the locals, all while supporting the elephants of the community and ensuring their well-being for years to come.
During the project, volunteers live three nights each week in the village where three meals each day are included. There is a small shop in the village from where you can purchase snacks. Volunteers are expected to help cooking meals and join in with day-to-day activities. Volunteers are also expected to follow strong local respect ethics at all times such as removing shoes before entering a house, keeping shoulders covered, maintaining respect for the Royal family, etc. These will be explained in more details in your pre-departure packet.
Whilst at the project, volunteers will live together in the home of the village elder and his family. You will get to experience rural Thai living firsthand. Wake up early to help prepare breakfast, give alms to the monks as they pass through the village, help out with community tasks and generally discover what life is like living like a Thai. While living in the elephant village, three meals each day are included and volunteers are expected to help with their preparation.