Project Summary

Volunteer in the elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka and become involved in local grassroots projects benefiting elephant protection and conservation efforts! Global Crossroad Volunteers is currently partnering with a local organization in Sri Lanka carrying out an elephant conservation project.

The main mission of the elephant conservation project is to provide daily care for elephants and not just for their own herd, but also for elephants throughout the country of Sri Lanka. Each volunteer will be assigned an elephant and work as an assistant to a mahout (elephant handler). You will have the unique opportunity to feed, bath and groom your elephant, as well as provide medical treatment if necessary. As you work with your elephant, you will be able to create a friendship and truly get to know its personality. The elephant conservation project needs the help of dedicated volunteers to recognize oncoming symptoms of illness, provide basic care, promote mental stimulation and create special relationships.

  • Program: Volunteer in Sri Lanka
  • Project: Elephant Conservation in Sri Lanka
  • Start dates: 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month
  • Location: Kegalle, Sri Lanka
  • Departure and End Point: Colombo International Airport
  • Language Need: none
  • Accommodation and meals: Onsite volunteer bungalow or jungle house and three local meals from onsite restaurant
  • Activities: interacting directly with elephants and providing care, friendship and maintenance, supporting elephant project and working on eco-farm
  • Working hours: 25-35 hours per week

While you work as a volunteer in the elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka, you will also be able to understand and experience Sri Lankan culture. In your free time, you will be able to truly appreciate Sri Lanka's natural beauty and your surroundings.

volunteer in srilanka gallery

Role of Volunteer

As a volunteer in Sri Lanka you will mainly work in the elephant conservation project. However, volunteers might be expected to work in other projects such as eco-farm, teaching English, mobile veterinary unit ect.

Elephant Project—The daily maintenance and treatment of your assigned elephant, as well as assisting with the project's administrative tasks, fundraising, researching resources and general maintenance necessary to assist the project's many projects benefiting elephants and the lives of local people.

Eco-farm—Volunteers will work in the eco-farm every day to help gardeners grow fresh and healthy fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs. These products are used as a part of the enrichment program and are used as treats for the elephants as well as food for the onsite restaurant. Many of the ingredients used in volunteer meals will be consist of produce grown by the volunteers themselves. This is a great opportunity to learn about traditional farming methods and non-chemical fertilizers. Volunteers also have the opportunity to learn about fruits and vegetables native to Sri Lanka. In the future, the project hopes to provide poor farmers with elephant-dung fertilizer, which is a great way for farmers to non-chemically protect their crops and conserve the environment.

Mobile Veterinary Unit (MVU)—Volunteers are invited to help local veterinarians visit sick elephants and supervise religious parades. The MVU uses a vehicle to transport vets and medicine to elephants in need of care; the MVU may even travel hundreds of miles a day. The MVU efficiently treats elephants without having to set up multiple clinics through Sri Lanka and is capable of treating multiple animals at the same time. Veterinary care can be very expensive and elephant ownership can create a financial burden. For this reason, the MVU care is free so that more elephant owners will seek out medical assistance for their elephants before it is too late. This is a great way for volunteers to meet elephant owners and travel the country.

English Teaching to Children—The project has organized local after school clubs to teach Sri Lankan children English. Strong English skills instantly open doors for Sri Lankan students, promising them a more prosperous future and greater job opportunities. Each after school club lesson is on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for one hour and our volunteers run the lessons. Teachers do not need prior experience, just creativity and a positive attitude. Ages vary widely in the lessons, anywhere from young toddlers to late twenties. The project tries to make every lesson interactive and fun by incorporating interactive activities such as songs and games. In the future, they hope to open a learning center with computers, educational resources and a classroom-like environment.

All four projects will be challenging, but very rewarding. You will have at least two days off a week to explore all Sri Lanka has to offer. You will be able to learn from locals and surround yourself in Sri Lanka's beauty, both in its people and its nature.

Skills/Qualification Needed

No specific qualifications are required to volunteer with the elephant project besides a love for animals, a hardworking mentality and a kind disposition. Note: Your understanding of Sri Lankan culture and language will enhance your experience and improve your interactions with the local staff and Mahouts. Consider enrolling in our one-week Language & Cultural Immersion program.

Volunteer in Sri Lanka: Project Locations and Free Time Options

The elephant conservation project in Sri Lanka is located in Kegalle, a small beautiful town about 50 miles (85km) from Colombo. The project was established in 1999 and since then has taken care of over 60 elephants. The sanctuary is spread over 15 acres of beautiful land. Throughout your time, you will be able to create relationships with not only elephants, but with fellow volunteers, local staff and community members of Kegalle. This is the perfect opportunity to really understand and appreciate Sri Lankan culture and ways of life.

Elephant Conservation Program: Accommodations/Meals/Field Support

Global Crossroad's volunteer in Sri Lanka elephant conservation program weekly fees include management of volunteers' meal plans and accommodations throughout projects and travel options. Three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be provided by an onsite restaurant and will consist of local ingredients and feature traditional cuisine choices for Sri Lanka. Many of the meals will consist of produce from the eco-farm, so volunteers will help to grow their own food! Our meal program can accommodate vegetarian needs; however, we are not able to provide for other dietary restrictions. Food and drinks outside of mealtimes are the volunteer's responsibility.

Accommodations, Meals, Field Support to volunteer in Elephant Conservation in Sri Lanka

As a volunteer in the elephant conservation project, you will stay in either a volunteer bungalow or a volunteer jungle house on the project's property. Both the bungalows and jungle cabins are surrounded by palm trees and have views of paddy fields. Each volunteer will be provided with mosquito nets, clean linens and towels. The bungalow can house eleven volunteers. Most bedrooms are shared and have en-suite bathrooms with outdoor showers. Volunteers share communal spaces such as a basic kitchen area, lounge area and library. There is a washing machine and basic kitchen supplies for volunteer use. There are five jungle cabins that can house three people each with one bunk bed and a single bed. Each cabin has a toilet and shower attached and volunteers can use the facilities in the bungalow. Please note that Sri Lanka experiences power and water shortages, but that's all just part of the experience.

A unique and important part of Global Crossroad's successful volunteer abroad programs is our volunteer support in-country. We put safety and comfort first as we deliver enriching and consistent experiences for our international travelers. Our support is multi-faceted while volunteers are in Sri Lanka and our staff is in contact with our volunteers on a regular basis either with face-to-face visits or via phone/email. Key support comes from our country coordinator and in-country field staff. These individuals are employed by our company and committed to ensuring your experience the best it can be. Your chosen project staff offers support as well and they are familiar with working with international volunteers and accustomed to answering questions and providing guidance. Volunteers also have access to our country coordinator's mobile number for emergencies. With longer assignments, our field staff visits regularly (every 2-4 weeks) to ensure the experience is meeting your expectations. Sometimes an assignment may be too far to visit physically, so staff members will touch-base via phone/email. You are also welcome to stop in the offices at any time. You are never alone.

Specific details regarding accommodations, food and contact details for our local coordinator will be provided in personalized volunteer placement documentation prior to arrival.