Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Volunteer with Elephants

"Living in this rural part of Sri Lanka is a rare experience, and something I relished as I saw over twenty new species of birds and got to enjoy the view of the Knuckles daily. I’m grateful to have seen elephants so close in Wasgamuwa National Park and will treasure the memory forever. "

Sophie May Watts, USA

Elephants are incredible and majestic creatures.  Despite their colossal strength, and ability to pull whole trees from the ground, in their presence they often feel impossibly gentle.  It is not difficult to feel in awe of an elephant and to be, almost instantly, filled with a deep sense of respect.  Our connection to these creatures are strengthened by our knowledge that they form deep family bonds and that have been known to display a range of emotions from grief and joy to anger and play.

These large mammals, in fact the largest land mammal, are characterised by their large ears, long trunks and tusks.  They are the only surviving family of the order Proboscidea (of which other, now extinct species, included the mammoth).  There are currently three recognised species: the African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana), the African forest elephant (L. cyclotis), and the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus).  Elephant herds are matriarchal, ranging in number from 8 to 100 (depending on family size and terrain), and the largest female is the matriarch.  If you join our elephant volunteer projects across Namibia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Thailand, you will get to witness their majestic nature.

Our Projects with Elephants

Basic Facts

Basic Facts

Elephants are herbivores, sustaining their incredible size and stature with a considerable amount of grasses, leaves, bamboo, bark, roots and sometimes crops.  Their mating seasons largely fall during the rainy season with gestation period stretching to around 22 months.  When the calf is born, the whole herd moves to protect and raise the new addition.  The young elephant is taken under their wings for around 5 years before it is weaned from care.

Like their memory, elephants have a long lifespan.  The average age is around 50-70 years.   Elephants are also a crucial part of our ecosystems.  For example, during dry spells, elephants use their tusks to dig deep for water which helps animals without such tools to survive the droughts.  They also create gaps in vegetation through which smaller animals can then pass and many trees rely on them for seed dispersal. This means, aside from elephants being loved worldwide for their beauty and intelligence, they are also an integral part of ecosystems.

Did You Know?

Did You Know?

  • Heat radiates out of an elephants ears? They thus act as cooling mechanisms.
  • In the same way that humans tend to be right-handed or left-handed, elephants can be right-tusked or left-tusked.
  • Elephants have social rules too? For example, when meeting each other they expect the other elephant to extend its trunk in greeting.
  • Adult elephants eat 300-400 lbs of food per day?
  • An elephant’s brain weighs 5 kg? Much more than the brain of any other land animal.
  • There are many reports of elephants showing altruism toward other species, such as rescuing trapped dogs at considerable cost to themselves?
Main Threats facing elephants

Main Threats facing elephants

The endangerment of these beautiful creatures is well known across the world and the struggle to end poaching and cruel killing of these gentle giants is not an unfamiliar plight to conservationists.  But poaching is just one of the threats that elephants face.   In addition to this, they are experiencing a loss of habitat which pushes them into conflicts with various surrounding human populations.  Our Desert Elephant Volunteer project in Namibia works to address and mitigate human-elephant conflict in local communities.

Alongside all of this, elephants also find themselves falling prey to hunting and, especially in areas across Asia, a part of cruel tourist activities and harmful practices for entertainment.  If you join our Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Projects in Thailand and Cambodia, you can take care of elephants who have been rescued from the tourist industry and who are able to live out their retirement in peace in their natural habitats.