Elephant Conservation

High­lights Require­ments What's Included Dates & Fees Rev­iews
Agency
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founded in 2003
The Great Projects
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Coordinator | Hannah
Coordinator | Hannah
Encounter the beautiful Asian elephant on this elephant conservation program deep within the lush Sri Lankan jungle. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Groups

About the Project

Nestled within the breathtaking surrounds of the Sri Lankan jungle, this project offers volunteers the opportunity to take part in vital ecological research on the region’s elephants. An overarching aim of the project is to assess and reduce human-elephant conflicts in the area, an issue which has become greater in recent years. As a volunteer, you will assist in the implementation of sustainable land-use initiatives using GPS, remote sensing and GIS techniques to develop conservation strategies which in turn will help to protect elephants and other wildlife in the Central and North Central Provinces of Sri Lanka.

Living in harmony with nature is a sentiment deeply embedded in Sri Lanka’s indigenous culture; this is primarily due to the Buddist fabric of the country which advocates ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence). The project aims to follow this notion, using it to rebuild human-elephant relationships.

The research conducted during this project is carried out to meet rigorous scientific enquiry and is based on adaptive management strategies. Volunteers will have the chance to experience a true, natural wilderness whilst contributing to field research and environmental protection in a meaningful way.

Prior to Arrival

You will need a visa to enter Sri Lanka. Visas for visits of up to thirty days can be obtained online via the Electronic Travel Authority. These can be extended for up to three months once in Sri Lanka from the Department of Immigration and Emigration. However, it is advisable to contact the Sri Lankan High Commission in your country of origin at least one month before you travel. Please note that your passport must be valid for at least six months from your arrival into the country.

Typical day

First Day

You will be collected from your hotel in Colombo by the project’s site facilitators, who will then transfer you to the Fort Railway Station. Please note that you will be collected by 6am on the project start date in order to catch the train at 7am. Your train journey will take you to the cultural capital of Kandy, where you will have an hour or two to explore the area before taking a bus directly to the field site. After settling into your accommodation, you will receive an orientation and will have the time to get to know your fellow volunteers.

Regular Days

During the project, your group will be split into two teams who will each engage in a wide variety of different wildlife and elephant conservation tasks in Wasgamuwa National Park. You will also get to visit local villages where you will observe human-elephant conflict resolution projects. Volunteers will also receive time off, where you can choose to relax or visit nearby cultural sites (such as Sigirua and the Temple of the Tooth). However, regarding your work days, activities may include any of the following:

Human-Elephant Conflict Observations:

This will be a fundamental part of your time on the project, as you will spend your afternoons and an evening in a tree hut situated within an ‘elephant corridor’. The purpose of this activity is to allow you to collect data on the special and temporal distribution of passing elephants and observe how villagers and elephants interact, as both factions use the area. You will be able to spot other wildlife, should it walk past! All of the data collected is essential for wider elephant conservation efforts.

Trail Transects:

This activity involves spending a session walking along a trail and recording dung found alongside it. The aim of the trail transect is to investigate Sri Lankan elephant populations outside of Wasgamuwa National Park, as well as determining their seasonal variation and habitat preferences. Additionally, while not exactly glamorous, this task is incredibly important in indicating the age, size, sex and eating patterns of elephant individuals, and may also illustrate the extent of human-elephant conflicts within the area.

Electric Fence Monitoring:

Each team will check the state of the solar powered electric fences, which have been erected to stop elephants from entering villages. Once checked, the status of their conditions will then be relayed to the local fence committees, who maintain and operate the fences. This process also enables volunteers and the project staff to see what can go wrong with the fences so that their design and management can be improved.

Elephant ID:

Each team will spend a session at the Weheragala Tank looking for Sri Lankan elephants and then observing and photographing them. Elephant identification data sheets will be filled by observing different physical features of individual elephants. The aim of the elephant ID is to build up a catalogue of individuals as a basis for numbers, social organisation and movement inside/outside the park. As you observe elephants you may also be able to observe other wildlife present in the area, which include sloth bears and even leopards!

Sustainable Land use and Livelihood Project Monitoring:

Agriculture is one of the main contributing factors in human-elephant conflicts. The project has established several sustainable land use and livelihood projects with local communities to develop agriculturally based measures which are compatible with the elephants. You will learn how important the involvement of communities is for sustainable elephant conservation and will also help to monitor and evaluate innovative landscape management systems designed to help buffer communities from elephant raids.

Wildlife Observation and Data Logging: 

You will spend time in your teams at the water tank, where you can look for Sri Lankan elephants and other wildlife including peacocks, mugger crocodiles, water buffalo, macaque monkeys, leopards and an extensive collection of birds within the area. The information collected will then be logged in the system.

Trekking:

During your time on the project you will spend time observing wildlife and various habitats, as well as visiting forest hermitages and looking out for signs of elephants for wider Asian elephant conservation and other wildlife.

Last Day

After saying goodbye to the project staff and the friends you have made, you will be transferred back to Colombo for your returning flight or to commence your independent travel plans.

Free-time activities

The weekends are generally free, so you might want to visit a nearby town or cultural site.

Water Sports
Swimming
Climbing
Hiking

Require­ments

In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
No specific skills or experience are required, just commitment to the project and its aims. You must be prepared to work alongside other members of the team, and to bring an upbeat, positive attitude to the endeavour as a whole.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

Services by The Great Projects

A contribution to the project - Transfers between Colombo and the project site - Full orientation and support from the project managers - Accommodation and all meals

Airport Pickup at Bandaranaike International Airport

As you will need to leave for the project at 7am from Colombo's Fort Railway Station, you will need to arrive the day before your project start date and check into a hotel nearby. A project facilitator will then collect you at 6am the following morning and will take you to the train station. You will then travel by train to the cultural capital of Kandy. You will have an hour or so to have a look around and then will take a bus directly to the field site.

Accommodation

Volunteers will stay in a 'field house' which can accommodate up to 30 people at a time. There are open walls to catch the breeze and to help keep the building cool. The accommodation itself is rustic and has basic facilities, though there are five modern bathrooms with western toilets, cold showers and sinks. Bathrooms will be split between genders. Please remember to bring your own towel.

Volunteers will share rooms on a same-sex basis, with anything from 2-8 people per room. Electric fans, mosquito nets, pillows and clean beds are provided.

Dorm Room Camping
Food & Beverages

Three fresh meals per day are prepared for you at the volunteer house. Food is prepared in the local style, with milder spices if preferred. Most meals will be vegetarian, with egg, fish and soy for protein.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB) in Colombo. We assist you to find cheap flights to Sri Lanka.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Sri Lanka provides security and is a plus to have.
Vaccines
If you are intending to volunteer in Sri Lanka you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Sri Lanka.

Dates & Fees

NO CREDIT CARD FEES

Details on arrival

This project takes place on every Monday throughout the year. Please contact us to find out whether your preferred start date is available.
Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Duration
1 - 12 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in GBP (USD)
1 week (min. stay)
£764 ($1,001)
2 weeks
£984 ($1,289)
3 weeks
£1,309 ($1,715)
4 weeks
£1,584 ($2,075)
6 weeks
£1,859 ($2,435)
8 weeks
£2,134 ($2,796)
10 weeks
£2,409 ($3,156)
12 weeks (max. stay)
£3,436 ($4,501)
Average fees
£525 ($688) /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. The Great Projects will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with The Great Projects during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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We refund your fees if The Great Projects cancels your trip
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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by The Great Projects.

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  Asia Southern Asia Sri Lanka  Wasgamuwa National Park, Wasgamuwa

Elephant Conservation

Encounter the beautiful Asian elephant on this elephant conservation program deep within the lush Sri Lankan jungle.

$525/week

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Availability
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