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Elephant Volunteer Project, Thailand

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Terrestrial / Aquatic Ecology & Conservation
Location Thailand - Asia & M East
Salary Additional Information Voluntary
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Full Time
Level Voluntary & Interns
Deadline 19/02/2016
Company Name WorkingAbroad Projects
Contact Name Vicky McNeil
Telephone 01273 479 047
Email victoria.mcneil@workingabroad.com
Website Further Details / Applications
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Volunteer at an Elephant Sanctuary and home for old elephants in Mae Chaem, situated in the lush countryside of Northern Thailand. Help to give elephants a chance to live free. This elephant volunteer project provides an alternative for elephants and their owners to move away from the busy city life and hardships of trekking by providing a retirement home for elderly elephants, as well as engaging the local community in environmental and education projects.

You can join for 1 week up to 4 weeks all year round and we have places all throughout 2013 and 2014 available.

Individuals, groups, families and students all welcome.

The Project


This old elephant retirement project in Mae Chaem, Chiang Mai, Thailand was established in 2011, with the aim of educating both owners and mahouts, as well as the locals, on the elephant situation in Thailand and providing an alternative for owners to retire their elephants to a place to call home.  The project currently rents 2 old female elephants, to provide an alternative for owners so they can keep their elephants out of work from trekking camps or in the tourism industry and in a natural home where they can enjoy freedom and have the ability to behave like real elephants.  They also rescue, rehabilitate and release local wildlife back into the wild and have been successful in the release of owls, many small lizards and even baby native forest rats. They are also a sanctuary to tortoises, dogs, cats and other small animals.

The project also works within the community teaching English to the local village children and anyone that wants to learn, provides locals with employment opportunities and support for local businesses, and also grows seasonal crops on the sanctuary to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

Volunteering with Elephants

The project relies on assistance from volunteers to help care for the elephants of the sanctuary and to support its community development programmes. Volunteers are involved in a range of tasks in the sanctuary such as;

  • walking with the elephants,
  • bathing the elephants,
  • preparing fruit for the elephants (cleaning, cutting),
  • feeding the elephants,
  • going to cut grass and corn for elephants,
  • helping with projects around the property for the elephants or in the local village.

Another main focus for this project is small animals rescue and release work.  Volunteers have rescued tortoises and different species of owls which have been rehabilitated back to health and released back into the wild.  So you may also be involved in any ongoing small animals rescue and release programmes, including building animal enclosures, making beds for animals, fixing fences, and so on.

In addition, Eco-tourism and environmental conservation  is promoted through planting trees, local education and community development. Volunteers have the opportunity to work together with the community and can join in on community projects, such as:

  • teaching English,
  • helping with educational programmes,
  • tree planting and clean up days,
  • providing soy milk for the elderly for nutrition,
  • replacing water pipes,
  • placing sand bags along the river banks to protect from flooding,
  • helping to repair local houses and so on.

Food, Lodging, Travel

Lodging & Food
Volunteers have a choice of lodging and can either stay onsite at the elephant sanctuary or in a local homestay. All food and bottled water is provided for volunteers.

Onsite lodging includes a mattress on the floor with a mosquito net and a fan in the room. Volunteers will also have a western toilet and a shower head. Homestays do not have a western toilet, the bathrooms have a squat Toilet and bucket showers. Homestay houses are located in the local village 3 minutes walk from the sanctuary, they can accommodate 2 people per room. 

The daily breakfast will include a western style; Eggs, fruit, Yogurt and bread (toaster provided), the daily Lunch and dinner will be a variety of Thai Cuisines and a side of fruit in season.  Bottled water, Tea and Coffee always provided.  If volunteers are interested in learning how to cook certain Thai cuisines that are on the menu for the day they can have the opportunity to help out and learn how to cook in the kitchen.

Volunteer Requirements
Volunteers should be aged 18 plus, be reasonably fit, and speak English. Previous experience working with animals would be useful but is not required. Volunteers should have a strong motivation to help and contribute to the community, and be able to cope with living in basic conditions.

How to Get there
Volunteers should aim to fly to Chiang Mai airport or the bus station. From here you will be picked up by local staff and taken to the sanctuary and your accommodation, ready to start the project. volunteer pick up is on Mondays.


Additional details

For more information regarding this opportunity, please visit the main project page here, or contact Vicky McNeil here. The application form can be found here, though it is advised that applicants express interest before applying, in order to discuss personal situations.

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