Based in Thailand’s Eastern province of Surin, this project works with communities that have lived and worked with elephants for hundreds of years. Over time, work for elephants and their owners (known as Mahouts) has decreased and the lack of opportunities has left Mahouts impoverished and their elephants starved. To alleviate these problems, the government developed initiatives encouraging communities to use elephants to attract tourists to the area, but this led to entertainment shows, which force the elephants to perform and be subject to mistreatment.
This project takes a different approach, in order to generate more income to support this species and their owners. It currently houses 13 elephants and works alongside communities to encourage tourism development through ethical and responsible eco-tourism approaches. The project aims to create a better life for elephants, free from abuse, and to establish sustainably managed, free-range elephant tourism.
Why choose this project?
Volunteer participation on this project brings an international perspective to benefit the local residents as they develop their ecotourism approaches. You will get to work with committed mahouts, their families and their elephants to enhance the standards of life in this community. This placement is a great way to build your CV/resume by showing that you value animals’ rights on a global scale.
Although you will be landing in Bangkok, you will be met at the airport by our local team who will put you in a guest house for 2 nights, give you a local orientation, a city tour, and drop you off with our local elephant partner on Monday morning who will take you to the project via public transport. You will get so much more out of this project that you can imagine by experiencing both the city life of Bangkok your first weekend and rural Thailand for the rest of your placement.
Role of the volunteer
Within the village, you will look after the elephants (walking, bathing, feeding), maintain and harvest crops to feed the elephants (sugar cane and bamboo), and do general maintenance (building elephant shelters, repairs, etc). As the natural habitats of elephants are dwindling (Thailand’s percentage of forested land has decreased from 90% in 1900 to just 22.5% in 1995), you will help restore the animal’s natural surroundings through reforestation.
You will have the opportunity to work with the local team to brainstorm explore ecologically sustainable and elephant friendly tourism options as well as learning about unethical elephant management practices.
No specific skills are required for this project, but a love of animals is a must. Work is fairly physical, therefore a moderate level of fitness will be needed. Volunteers must be friendly and flexible.
WHY JOIN THE PROJECT
To provide a better life for elephants, free from abuse
To create responsible forms of elephant based tourism
To experience Thai rural life
This placement is situated approximately 50km from the city of Surin. The area around the project is inhabited entirely by mahouts and their families; volunteers will live in a mahout family home with an elephant (or two) living in the garden outside your door! You will be a stone’s throw away from other volunteers’ houses and you will all eat communally in the centre square, with food cooked by the families. Houses have electricity and outhouses with running water. They provide fans and mosquito nets as well.
You will be surrounded by forested areas, where you can go walking. At weekends, volunteers can take a public bus into Surin to visit famous sites such as the unique City Pillar Shrine, the Wat Burapharam Buddhist temple or the peaceful Huai Saneng Reservoir.
Details & Costs
- Duration: 1 – 12 weeks
- Cost: £975 / $1706 for 1 week
£1235 / $2161 for 2 weeks
£260/ $300 for each week thereafter
- Requirements: age 16+
- Location: Surin, Thailand
- Project activities: work with the local community to feed, exercise, and bath elephants, other general maintenance tasks
- Working hours: Monday – Saturday, 09:00 – 17:00
- Project availability: all year round
- Arrival Day: Saturday in Bangkok
What is included
- Accommodation: single or shared room in a homestay
- Food: 3 meals per day
- Airport pickup in Bangkok
- Bangkok City Tour
- Transfer to Surin and return to either Bangkok or Chiang Mai
- Training: pre-departure information pack and onsite orientation by the local team
- Support: 24-hour support
- Excursion Planning: staff will help organise activities and excursions
What is not included
- Airport transfer to Bangkok at the end of the project
Easy 3-step application process
APPLY ONLINE Click here to apply online and pay your deposit to secure your space on your chosen project. Our advisors will then contact you to guide you through the next steps.
TELEPHONE INTERVIEW Once we’ve received your application, we’ll be in touch to arrange your informal telephone interview with your Kaya Placement Advisor.
GET PREPARED When you’ve been accepted onto your project we’ll send you your Welcome Pack and lots of other helpful information to assist you with preparing for your placement.
HAVE A QUESTION?
We pride ourselves on providing you high quality placement information throughout your application process and whilst on the ground. Connect with us if you have any questions.
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