CARE FOR ELEPHANTS IN AN ELEPHANT CENTRE IN SURIN Volunteering, Gap Year or
Career Break in Thailand
Work hands-on with elephants, giving
them lots of care. By volunteering with them, you'll also be helping
to improve the living conditions of captive elephants in Thailand.
You'll work very hands-on with 12
elephants, but you'll be surrounded by up to 200 elephants.
The experience of being in the middle of such a huge number of these
majestic creatures is awesome!
1 week to 8 weeks or longer, subject to visa requirements
Projects start every
Sunday, all year round - you choose
your start and finish dates.
No qualifications or experience required, but you
must have lots of enthusiasm and initiative, and a great
love of elephants and their well-being. Minimum age 18
if travelling unaccompanied, but minimum age 16 if
accompanied by parent or guardian
►Full pre-departure support and assistance,
►Payment Protection insurance
►Food (except in
on the overnight stay in Bangkok on arrival)
►Meeting you at Bangkok Airport
►Transfer to a hotel for an
overnight stay in Bangkok and transfer to the pick-up
point the following day
►Transfer to the project location
►Local in-country team support and backup
►24-hr emergency support.
►Certificate of Completion
What's not included
Insurance, Cost of Visa, Food whilst in Bangkok, return
transfer to the departure airport
Who can do
This project is open to all nationalities and all ages
over 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian
Suitable for gap years or those taking a year
out, grown-up gappers, career breakers, anyone interested in
conservation and caring for animals and working with wildlife
Suitable if you want to learn about nurturing, rescue
and rehabilitation of elephants, plus animal
care with elephants, voluntary work with
projects abroad or study abroad.
Also available as a summer placement or a short break activity.
WHAT YOU'LL GAIN FROM DOING THIS PROJECT:
An exciting, never-to-be-forgotten adventure into Asia and the Thai
The enormous satisfaction of
helping to improve the quality of life of elephants by working
hands-on with them, andknowing that you made a difference to them.
New skills, more confidence, a greater understanding
of a different culture, invaluable personal and professional
An entry on your CV or résumé that will put you head
and shoulders above most others in the job market.
And best of all ... an unforgettable experience!
the best thing about your placement so far? "So many
to choose from! Feeding baby Teng Mo, bathing the elephants in
the river, feeding them!”
Video made by Galia Osmo
gaining hands-on experience that I have never had before of looking
after the elephants and their well being. I'm also learning on a
daily basis about these wonderful animals." Charlotte
with 12 elephants, but you'll be surrounded by up to 200
elephants! The experience of being in the middle of such a huge
number of these majestic creatures is awesome ... breath-taking
... there are no words to describe it!
Each day that you are on this project supporting the elephants
means that the elephants have a day free of chains - and a
brighter future. By being there, looking after it, caring for
it, bathing it in the river and taking it out on walks, you have
an enormous effect on the elephant's daily quality of life.
You'll also help plant food for the elephants and work on
various other projects that directly help the elephants.
You'll work closely
with mahouts, helping to change the practice of using
elephants for street begging and circus shows to providing an
alternative for their elephants that is more natural, less
stressful, and is sustainable.
There are over
registered in the Surin province and the vast majority of them
are trapped in the unfortunate trade of street begging ... and
street begging reduces an elephant’s life expectancy by at least
50%. This project is helping to develop a sustainable elephant
centre. With your support, the goal is
to establish sustainably managed alternatives to both street
begging and to other forms of tourism, such as circuses and
Your normal daily routine will
start with walking to the work site - which is surrounded by
hundreds of elephants! An awesome start to the day. During your
work, elephants will be allowed to freely interact socially and
you'll participate in basic elephant care.
You'll feed the elephants and
generally have lots of hands-on work with them. Elephants
love people and they love social interaction. They can be
You'll normally help to take the elephants out on walks
with the mahouts about twice a day across the local rice
fields and forests.
The elephants love the water so you will normally take
the elephants down to the local reservoir for clean up. This
is not only great fun, the elephants love it too
You'll be helping to build a new Elephant Center. There
is a lot of diverse work involved in this, including helping
to restore the natural habitat that has been destroyed by
over-logging. Thus, you'll also help by planting grass and
other vegetation that helps to feed the elephants
You'll be asked
to take on some community development work, not only to help
strengthen ties within the local community but also to learn
from them in the process.
Other duties could involve
helping to cut the grass and preparing other elephant foods,
as well as actually feeding the elephants.
During the project you will have
plenty of opportunities to learn about the elephants and the
local communities and how they are trying to become ever more
stainable with local resources, like making paper out of
For anyone wanting to be
surrounded by elephants this truly couldn't be a better project.
You'll live on the site in wooden huts surrounded by elephants.
One volunteer said that one of the elephants managed to get her
trunk through the window and stole her hand cream (Coconut
You'll live in home-stay
accommodation within the centre and you'll usually be sharing
your accommodation with another volunteer. Shared bathrooms with
Western style toilets and Thai style bucket showers, but no hot
Volunteers will share 2 to a room
or have their own room depending on availability, but each room
is equipped with mosquito nets and a fan.
Accommodation is basic by most
Western standards, but this is Thailand and you'll be expected
to be open-minded and adapt as much as possible to village life.
The more volunteers who can help look after the elephants, the
more elephants can be taken in and given a decent quality of life.
The funds raised from taking volunteers will also help to expand
and develop a structure that can take in more and more of the
A few reasons one is for the money to help support the work they
are doing and support the elephants and Mahouts.
Having volunteers gives the Mahouts a purpose to their days and
an objective - helping the elephants. Volunteers help to engender a
positive environment and experience for the Mahouts, which in turn
gives them a pride in caring for the elephants and a purpose to
Volunteers help the elephants! Like people, elephants are
intelligent and love interaction. It stops them getting bored (and
being chained up). Volunteers help to stimulate the elephants
mentally and give them an interest, which is vital to the elephants'
The Project's goal is to
is to establish sustainably managed elephant tourism. It
hopes that the more people who see and learn about the importance of
what they are doing, the more this will help bring more support to
the region, the community and the elephants.
impact that this project will have for elephant conservation is huge.
There are over 300 elephants registered in the Surin province
and the vast majority of them are trapped in the unfortunate trade of
street begging. This is a terrible life for elephants. They require
literally hundreds of kilos of fresh vegetables and clean water daily
... and street begging reduces an elephant’s life expectancy by at least
The goal is to have families of elephants freely roaming in
natural habitat and for their Mahouts (carers) to be provided with a
steady income that will replace the income they currently derive from
using the elephants for street begging.
Government has already set aside over 2000 acres of land, enough to
maintain a breeding population of 300 elephants, which is approximately
10% of the existing population of Asian elephants in captivity in
Thailand. In Surin, we have a chance to change history – to save the
Asian elephant from extinction and give them a life worth living for
generations to come.
ABOUT THE PROJECT AND A
LITTLE HISTORY: Historically, elephants were used to help with labouring
work and for nearly 4,000 years the Mahout tribe in Thailand have been
responsible looking after and training the King's elephants. However, in
the last 40 years the need for elephants has virtually disappeared owing
to industrial technology. This meant that many of the Mahouts and
elephants were reduced to begging and using elephants for street
About 20 years ago, street begging and street entertainment was made
illegal. Now there is no income for the Mahouts and no money to feed and
shelter the elephants. The Thai government doesn't seem to know what to
do with the elephants or the Mahouts other than keeping them in an
aimless existence. They created the Surin Elephant Park to accommodate
them, but this place can be best described as simply a giant refugee
camp for elephants where the Mahouts are given a small amount of money
by the Thai government to simply stay alive, but without any direction
or purpose to their lives.
The Foundation we work with was created to find a
positive solution to this problem. Surin has over 200 elephants, but
at the moment the Foundation only looks after twelve elephants, but that
number is slowly increasing as funds are raised to cover the costs of
looking after the elephants and the mahouts..
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN
YOU BOOK YOUR PLACEMENT:
Once you have applied for a placement, we'll
contact you and send you our Welcome Pack. You'll also receive Log-on
details and password for our Volunteer Extranet where you'll have
access to all the documentation and information which we've put
together to facilitate preparations for your adventure!
Project Co-ordinator for your country will liaise with you
throughout the arrangements process, as well as while you're on
your placement and on your return home.
The documents you'll have access to also include a Country
Factfile, Safety Guide and any manuals that may assist you on
your particular programme (e.g. Teaching Guide, Sports Manuals, Enrichment
Suggestions for Animal Care, etc.). We do all we
can to make your stay one that you'll never forget. This is a truly awesome, elegant and beautiful country.
As with all our destinations, the culture and heritage is
different to what you're used to ... which, although one of the
most exciting aspects of travelling, should be borne in
Self-reliance and independence are highly appreciated in
all our destinations and will help you to make the most of this
On Arrival, your Introduction to the Country:
When you arrive at Bangkok Airport,
you'll be met by our Thailand Organiser and taken to a hotel to
stay overnight. The following day he'll pick you up and take you
to the bus station for the bus to Surin. In Surin you'll be met
by the Project Organiser or one of his staff and taken to the
On arrival there you'll be introduced
to all the other volunteers and the local project team. Then you
get to meet the elephants! Your adventure has begun :-)
Baby Nopa Gao was born in the
beginning of 2011
"Mem and Imboon bathing in the new enclosure, which has hugely
improved their lives. As you are largely responsible for the
construction of this enclosure, I thought you would like to see the
fruits of your labor." Eleanor Content
Volunteer being cooled down by an
While on your placements, you can also book some
Optional Add-Ons to make the most of your Travel Experience.
project can also be combined with any of our other projects in Thailand or
South-East Asia - thus
doubling your adventure and enjoyment!
Our recommended comindations are Sri Lanka, Malaysia or the
Pandas in China!
LOCATION, EXPLORING AND SIGHTSEEING:
LOCATION: Surin City is located approximately 7 hours drive North-East
of Bangkok. This is part of the Isaan Region of
North-Eastern Thailand, known for its‟ spicy and delicious
food, farming traditions, and rural culture. Most people of
Isaan speak one of several dialects of the Laos language, as
well as Standard Thai, and often a local tribal language.
Surin province was once
covered with forests teaming with wild elephants, but
deforestation throughout the 20th century has
left most of the countryside dry and barren or converted to
rice paddies. Baan Tha Klang Village is approximately1 hours
drive North-West of Surin City, located on the Moon River,
which flows into the Mekong River.
BANGKOK: Bangkok is not for the faint hearted! This is South East
Asia’s largest, most frenetic, over polluted, traffic
congested capital city. But don’t let that put you off! This
will all become part of the charm.
By day and
night, Bangkok is fast paced - this is a city for indulgence
and fun, with action at all hours. One of the best ways to
appreciate the beauty of this country is to live and breathe
traditional floating markets on the outskirts of
Bangkok, where traders sell their wares from wooden
boats, weighed down by kilos of bananas and other exotic
fruits as garlands of jasmine hang off the boats stern.
Walk through China
Town early in the morning and watch stall owners carry
boxes of merchandise that tower over them, weighing two
or three times their body weight.
Snack on some
fresh pineapple or watermelon carefully sliced by a
roadside vendor as you soak in the sights and smells of
the city before the midday heat encourages you inside to
air conditioned safety.
Watch tuk tuk’s
laden with people screech past, weaving in and out of
Enjoy some freshly
cooked Pad Thai from a street vendor. This is a mixture
of noodles and bean sprouts stir fried with an egg and
served with a generous portion of chilli sauce, or for
the brave, a heaping of additional dried chilli.
Take in sunset
from a river cruise and marvel at Bangkok’s diverse
skyline, from modern gleaming skyscrapers to the pointed
gold roof’s of glittering temples.
Visit the Grand
Palace, a decadent spectacle which used to be residence to
the King of Thailand and now has a temple for the Emerald
The grand palace is one of the most striking pieces of
art in Thailand, with gargoyles, dragons and warriors
incredibly re-constructed in glittering mosaics.
TRAVEL: To read about Travel arrangements and what happens when you
arrive in your new country, please
Support & Backup:
To read about the excellentSupport
& Backup we provide before you leave and during
please click here.
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