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Family Volunteering with Elephants – Four of the Best Ethical Projects Around the World

April 17th 2024

Discover the Magic of Family Volunteering with Elephants

Elephants have captured the human imagination for centuries. These magnificent creatures play a starring role in our myths, songs, and stories across cultures. From the beloved elephant-headed god Ganesha in Hindu mythology to the celebrated African folk tales of Anansi the Spider, elephants symbolise wisdom, strength, and memory. Elephants are not just majestic animals; they have an intrinsic value to humans as cultural icons that remind us of our connection to the natural world.

At WorkingAbroad, we offer families the opportunity to experience this connection firsthand through ethical family volunteering with elephants in their natural habitats. Here are four of our standout projects that combine conservation with cultural enrichment:

1. Ethical Elephant Project in Thailand for Families

“We will cherish our time and memories of Thailand for a very long time. From the moment we were collected from our hotel in Chiang Mai to drop off 7 days later we were treated like family. The entire team welcomed us with open arms.” – Kerry Lynn Barbaruk

Family Volunteer project with Elephants in ThailandVolunteer in Thailand | WorkingAbroad

Location: Mae Chaem, Thailand
Suitable for: Families with children aged 10+
Duration: 3-night/6-night stays

Set against Thailand’s lush mountains, this sanctuary provides a haven for retired elephants and local wildlife. Volunteers can observe elephants in their serene home, help with conservation efforts, and immerse themselves in Thai culture through community projects and culinary experiences.

Activities Include:

  • Observing elephants in their natural habitat
  • Preparing food and enrichment for elephants
  • Participating in local community and environmental projects

Find out more about this project here.

2. Elephant Volunteer Project in Laos for Families

We had the best time in our lives. The experience and purpose were magnificent and wonderful. Words can’t describe the respect and gratitude we felt towards the animals, keepers and staff. A dream has come true to be part of something wonderful and we will be back.” – Daniela Krohm

Family Volunteer project with Elephants in LaosElephant Volunteering in Laos | Working Abroad

Location: Protected forest near a majestic lake, near Luang Prabang, Laos
Suitable for: All ages
Duration: 1 night/2 nights/6 nights

In the heart of Laos, families can learn about Asian elephant conservation in a breathtaking forest by a lake. This sanctuary allows elephants to live freely, offering a peaceful retreat for both animals and humans.

Activities Include:

  • Elephant observation and behaviour study
  • Participation in local conservation efforts
  • Cultural immersion activities

Find out more about this project here.


3. Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Project in Cambodia for Families

“If someone loves the Elephants, there is no better place to get closer to them than on that project. Staff members are doing a fantastic job with the Elephants and the local community giving over 70 jobs.” – Robert Starykiewicz

Family Volunteer project with Elephants in CambodiaVolunteer in Cambodia | WorkingAbroad

Location: Mondulkiri, Cambodia
Suitable for: Families with children over 8
Duration: Minimum 2 weeks

Nestled in a vast tropical forest, this sanctuary cares for elephants retired from laborious lives. Volunteers help with daily routines and learn about the challenges these creatures face.

Activities Include:

  • Elephant health checks and observation
  • Forest conservation and community farming
  • Educational workshops on elephant wellbeing

Find out more about this project here.


4. Desert Elephants Volunteer Project in Namibia for Families

The sheer beauty of the Namibian desert and wildlife, made the project an opportunity of a lifetime. I was impressed by the dedication of the volunteers and the instruction of the team.” – Jaz Henry

Family Volunteer project with Elephants in NamibiaDesert Elephant Conservation | WorkingAbroad

Location: Northwestern Namibia
Suitable for: 5 years upwards
Duration: 9 nights

Experience the rugged beauty of Namibia’s Damaraland with your family and actively contribute to elephant conservation and community enhancement. This project allows families to integrate fully into local efforts that support coexistence between desert-adapted elephants and the community.

Activities Include:

  • Renovating local school facilities at Okongue Primary, engaging with students on human-elephant relationships
  • Learning desert survival skills and local customs
  • Tracking elephant herds through the desert and sleeping under the stars

Find out more about this project here.


Our Commitment to Ethical Practices in Family Volunteering with Elephants

We are deeply committed to ethical elephant volunteering. Unlike many projects that exploit these majestic animals for entertainment, our projects ensure that volunteers contribute to efforts that respect and preserve elephant dignity and welfare. This means no riding, feeding, or bathing elephants — instead, we observe these beautiful creatures in ways that do not interfere with their natural behaviours.

Join us in these adventures that not only bring families closer to nature but also teach invaluable lessons about conservation, respect, and the beauty of elephants. Are you ready to be part of something bigger and help protect these gentle giants?

About the Author

WorkingAbroad Projects

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