Are you an elephant lover who feels called to help these gentle giants? Would you like to travel to Sri Lanka to work hands-on with IFRE’s amazing elephant sanctuary volunteer program?
Sri Lanka is an island in the Indian Ocean that is home to the unique Sri Lankan elephant, the largest and darkest sub-species of Asian elephants. The island is ringed by beautiful sandy beaches, and the center is thick with green volcanic jungle mountains where you can find exotic wildlife such as leopards, peacocks, deer, monkeys, and of course, elephants!
Sadly, the elephants of Sri Lanka suffer daily through human encroachment on their habitats and exploitation. and hundreds more are pushed further and further as industry and deforestation steals away their home.
IFRE partners with a local elephant center that has cared for more than 80 elephants since its inception. Today it is the home of six elephants ranging in age from 25 to 60 years temporarily or permanently residing at the center. By joining the important work done here, you will provide important care and nurturing to these traumatized animals and help their chances of survival as a species.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience that really gives back to animals in need, and for elephant lovers you will never feel more fulfilled or like you are making a bigger difference in the world. You will show a kinder version of humanity to these amazing animals and ensure their health, well-being and survival.
Do you want to help amazing animals in need and protect them from exploitation, suffering and death? Then contact IFRE today for more information about this exciting opportunity!
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Volunteer Responsibilities & Impact
At the Kegalle elephant volunteer project, you will be assigned a special elephant to work with as an assistant to a mahout (or elephant handler). Your daily tasks will involve feeding, bathing, and grooming the elephant, providing mental stimulation, and looking out for any signs of illness or injury and assisting in providing treatment if necessary.
You will also work daily in the eco-farm helping to grow fruits, vegetables, and medicinal herbs, as well as support the project in other ways such as administrative work, research, fundraising, teaching English, and helping out with the mobile veterinary unit.
The project focuses on four major areas and you can participate in every aspect:
Caring for the Elephants: You will help to provide daily care and treatment of elephants. You will be assigned an elephant and help to feed, bath and play with your new friend.
In addition, you are needed to assist the project with administrative tasks and fundraising so that the project may run smoothly, and adequate resources are available for elephant care. General maintenance of facilities will also be appreciated.
Eco-farm Project: The elephant project has an eco-farm to grow healthy, fresh and organic produce and medicine for the elephants and for food used in the project’s restaurant (where you will eat). The project focuses on an enrichment program to grow chemical-free fruits, vegetables and herbs and educates locals on the importance of healthy and organic foods. Uniquely, the project uses elephant-dung fertilizer instead of harmful chemicals and is hoping to help local farmers do the same.
With this unique elephant product, the project hopes to help farmers produce organic goods without the high price of alternative farming. You will work in the eco-farm every day to enhance the project and in turn, help to produce some of the food they will receive at the restaurant (where volunteers will receive three local meals included in the program).
Mobile Veterinary Unit (MVU): The elephant project works with an MVU to transport veterinarians, volunteers and medical supplies throughout Sri Lanka to provide free medical treatment to elephants. Vet care can be very costly, so the program focuses on providing assistance to elephant owners who may not otherwise be able to afford their elephant’snecessary care.
The MVU is a more efficient and less costly way to care for all Sri Lankan elephants. The MVU may travel hundreds of miles a day, so this is a great opportunity for volunteers to see more of the country and gain direct veterinary experience.
After-school English Program: You will help to lead English lessons for a community after-school program started by the elephant project, who hopes to expand their educational programs in the future.
Lessons are every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and are one hour long each. Student ages vary greatly, from very young to late twenties. The lessons are meant to be fun and interactive. No teaching experience is necessary.
On weekends and during your free time, you will have the chance to travel throughout Sri Lanka and learn about the country’s culture, history, geography, etc.
Impacts of volunteering with elephants in Sri Lanka
Your dedicated care to your assigned elephant will contribute greatly to its daily quality of life, and you will connect with the individual animal while getting to know more about this captivating species.
Your work in the eco-farm is a great chance to learn about local, sustainable farming practices and non-chemical fertilizers. You will also contribute to the project’s future goal of providing elephant dung fertilizer to poor farmers, giving them an environmentally friendly way to grow their crops and hopefully offering the villagers a new perspective on human-elephant relations.