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Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Sri Lanka!

Are you an elephant lover who feels called to help these gentle giants? Would you like to travel to Sri Lanka to work hands-on with IFRE’s amazing elephant sanctuary volunteer program?

Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean that is home to the unique Sri Lankan elephant, the largest and darkest sub-species of Asian elephants. The island is ringed by beautiful sandy beaches, and the center is thick with green volcanic jungle mountains where you can find exotic wildlife such as leopards, peacocks, deer, monkeys, and of course, elephants!

Sadly, the elephants of Sri Lanka suffer daily through human encroachment on their habitats and exploitation. and hundreds more are pushed further and further as industry and deforestation steals away their home.

IFRE partners with a local elephant center that has cared for more than 80 elephants since its inception. Today it is the home of six elephants ranging in age from 25 to 60 years temporarily or permanently residing at the center. By joining the important work done here, you will provide important care and nurturing to these traumatized animals and help their chances of survival as a species.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience that really gives back to animals in need, and for elephant lovers you will never feel more fulfilled or like you are making a bigger difference in the world. You will show a kinder version of humanity to these amazing animals and ensure their health, well-being and survival.

Do you want to help amazing animals in need and protect them from exploitation, suffering and death? Then contact IFRE today for more information about this exciting opportunity!

Take a minute to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Volunteer Responsibilities & Impact

At the Kegalle elephant volunteer project, you will be assigned a special elephant to work with as an assistant to a mahout (or elephant handler). Your daily tasks will involve feeding, bathing, and grooming the elephant, providing mental stimulation, and looking out for any signs of illness or injury and assisting in providing treatment if necessary.

You will also work daily in the eco-farm helping to grow fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs, as well as support the project in other ways such as administrative work, research, fundraising, teaching English, and helping out with the mobile veterinary unit.

The project focuses on four major areas and you can participate in every aspect:

Caring for the Elephants: You will 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, you are needed to assist the 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.

Eco-farm Project: The elephant 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 restaurant (where you 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. You will work in the eco-farm every day 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).

Mobile Veterinary Unit (MVU): The elephant 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 very 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.

After-school English Program: You will help to lead English lessons for a community after-school program started by the elephant 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 your free time, you will have the chance to travel throughout Sri Lanka and learn about the country’s culture, history, geography, etc.

Impacts of volunteering with elephants in Sri Lanka

Your dedicated care to your assigned elephant will contribute greatly to its daily quality of life, and you will connect with the individual animal while getting to know more about this captivating species.

Your work in the eco-farm is a great chance to learn about local, sustainable farming practices and non-chemical fertilizers. You will also contribute to the project’s future goal of providing elephant dung fertilizer to poor farmers, giving them an environmentally friendly way to grow their crops and hopefully offering the villagers a new perspective on human-elephant relations.

Skills and Qualifications:

There are no specific qualifications required to join our volunteer abroad elephant program in Sri Lanka. All you will need is a willingness to work hard, a dedication to helping elephants, and a kind and respectful attitude towards the animals you will be volunteering to help.

Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Sri Lanka: Dates and Fees

Program Dates

IFRE programs begin every Monday year-round. If you have travel constraints, you can still start your chosen program on any day of the year.

Our Fees

Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others.

We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured; we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fees (US$)

Duration Kegalle Elephant
  1 Week   $300
  2 Weeks   $565
  3 Weeks   $815
  4 Weeks   $1,040

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

Airport Pickup and Transfer to Galle (2 hours) $100/per person

Airport Pickup and Transfer to Kegalle (80 KM) $100/per person

Airport pick up & transfer to Pinnawala (80 km) $100/per person

Language and Culture $250

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Accommodation (Volunteer House)
  • Food (only breakfast and dinnery)
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers
  • Program Fees Exclude:

    • Visas
    • Airfare
    • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
    • Daily transportation
    • Airport return transfer

Take a minute to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Accommodation and Meal

IFRE’s weekly program fees include your accommodations, all of your meals, and supervision by our in-country coordinators. Depending up on the flow of volunteers, you will be staying either in the bungalow or in a volunteer jungle house throughout the project.

Bungalow :

While volunteering in the Kegalle Sri Lanka elephant projectyou will stay in a safe, secure and comfortable bungalow built specially to house international volunteers. The bungalow is enclosed by captivating palm trees and overlooks green grain meadows.

There are multiple bedrooms furnished with many single beds, bedding materials, fan and other necessary amenities. The bedrooms are shared with other volunteers of the same gender. Mosquito nets, clean linen and towels are provided.

As a volunteer, you also get to use the clean and comfortable bathroom facilities. There are western style toilets with running tap water. There are also two refreshing outdoor showers.

You will have access to a kitchen area with a sink, refrigerator, water filter, washing bowls and a lounge area with free Wi-Fi and books.

Staying in the bungalow and sharing rooms with other like-minded volunteers will be an experience of a lifetime for you. You get to exchange your unique daily experiences with other volunteers while making a difference in the project. The environment is very relaxed and social and a great place to unwind after a busy day.

Volunteer Jungle Cabins:

Another accommodation option for volunteering in our Kegalle, Sri Lanka in elephant project is staying in the Jungle cabins. There are five cabins set aside to house you and other international volunteers. You will share a cabin with two other volunteers, andeach of the cabins has an attached bathroom with a regular supply of water.

There is also easy access to the bungalow from the cabins where you can go to use the available facilities. However, we suggest you be prepared for the occasional power cuts and shortages of water. As a volunteer working to help elephants in Sri Lanka, you are expected to be flexible and should adopt to the idea of living a rustic life and leaving your comfort zone behind.

Our cabin accommodations are advantageous for you in several ways. The accommodation cost is extremely affordable, and it is the perfect choice for both solo and group travellers. You will learn and share experiences with other volunteers, get to enjoy a camp life and observe the wildlife all day long.

Facilities: Multiple shared rooms (same gender), comfortable beds, electricity, Wi-Fi, western toilet, regular supply of water, safe and sound living environment, outdoor showers, mosquito nets


You will receive three quality home-cooked meals per day, including breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The breakfast menu (around 7: 30 AM) includes bread, butter, jam, fruits, bun, egg, tea, coffee, etc. During lunch (Around 12:30 PM), you will enjoy rice and curry prepared with no spice.

The dinner menu (around 7:30 PM) includes varieties of Sri Lankan as well as western foods. You get to taste spaghetti, noodles, string hoppers,hoppers, paratha, dry bread, and more.

Sri Lankan food is unique and eating locally while you are volunteering abroad gives you a real taste for the culture you have come all this way to experience. Sri Lankan cuisine varies by region. Major ingredients are grain, fresh vegetables, beans, sauces, spices, fish, coconut milk, etc. As most of the people of Sri Lanka are farmers, rice and curry are the staple diet in this country. Sri Lankan curry is known for its spicy flavor, and the use of coconut milk.

A unique aspect of the Kegalleelephant project is that many of the fruits and vegetables you eat are grown right there in the eco-garden you will be helping to care for daily. This gives you the chance to truly taste the fruits of your labor!

Find detailed information about our host families, accommodation and meals.

Free Time and Weekend Exploration

This amazing wildlife volunteer project takes place in Kegalle, Sri Lanka. Kegalle and the surrounding area is a unique destination with many things to explore and do while you are not volunteering. Most notable are the ancient temples built in and around caves. One such cave is Bela Lena, where stone tools were found which were the oldest discovered to date in the world! You will also find waterfalls, monasteries, and even a nearby theme park built in honor of Sri Lanka’s version of Robin Hood!

Read more about some exciting places you can visit while volunteering in Sri Lanka.

Safety and in Country Support

IFRE takes your safety incredibly seriously. We carefully vet and inspect all our facilities and projects to ensure your security and comfort and provide extensive support all the way through your project. Our dedicated in-country coordinator will be available 24/7 to assist you with anything you may need.

Read more about our safety and in-country support.

Take a minute to complete the form and we will be in touch.

Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Sri Lanka: FAQs

What are the day-to-day activities in the project? What do I actually do?

Your major responsibilities in the project are to work with the mahouts to take care of the elephants. You will assist mahouts and other staff to feed and bathe the elephants. You will also keep records and collect data of the elephant’s movements. Another important role you will fill is educating the local public on wildlife and how to live peacefully and respectfully alongside elephants.

How many hours a day will I work?

As an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you will work 4-5 hours a day. However, your volunteering schedule is not fixed and may vary. You will work from Monday to Friday. The rest of the time you are free to explore beautiful places around Sri Lanka.

Is this Elephant Sanctuary Volunteerprogram available year-round? When will it close and for how long?

Yes. The elephant project is available year-round. You can join the project from one week to 12 weeks depending on your availability of time.

Is there any type of support available for the volunteers?

Yes. Our representatives will be there for your safety and support. You will be assisted and well-guided from your arrival to your departure date. If you need information and help, our in-country coordinator and project staff will always be there for you.

Do we get hands-on experience at this elephant sanctuary volunteerproject in Sri Lanka?

Yes,it is a hands-on project. You will be put in real-life situations to observe, work with the elephants, and find solutions to the problems faced by the animals in your care. After completion of the project, you will have gained a much deeper insight into the life of elephants.

What is the distance between my accommodations and the sanctuary? Will I need transportation?

You will stay in a volunteer house located withinthe project grounds. Therefore, you do not need vehicle to reach and return from the project.

Will I be working in the elephant project in Sri Lanka on my own, or will there be someone assisting me while working?

As a volunteer, you will work under the supervision of the mahout. Sometimes, you might be carrying out elephant care activities on your own, but support and help is always provided to you as needed.

What is my accommodation? What are the facilities?

You will stay either in the volunteer bungalow or jungle cabins located inside the project. There are multiple bedrooms, which are shared with same gender volunteers. Comfortable bathroom facility with western toilet and running tap water is available. And of course, WIFI is available for free.

The elephants of Sri Lanka need your help, and you can get started right away! Contact IFRE to learn more about our safe and affordable Elephant Sanctuary Volunteerin Kegalle!

Other Volunteer Opportunities in Sri Lanka

IFRE arranges many different volunteer opportunities in Sri Lanka. Such as:

Work with elephants in Pinnawala

Teach English to disadvantaged children or Buddhist monks

Work in an orphanage

Provide healthcare and much more.

Contact IFRE today and find out which project is ideal for you!

Other Elephant Volunteering Programs Worldwide

Elephants are sadly victimized and endangered everywhere they exist. To help protect this amazing species from extinction IFRE arranges elephant conservation programs all across Asia and Africa. See the list below for some of our most popular elephant programs:

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