from 868€

Excellent 4.8rating (21)

Elephant Research Internship

location
1 - 8 weeks  ·  Age 18 - 50+

rating  Excellent 4.8  · 
  Verified by Volunteer World
  Excellent response rate

Highlights

  • Hike to find elephants in their natural habitat
  • Collect data on natural elephant behaviour
  • Immerse in the local culture of the Karen Hilltribe
  • Make memories you will never forget on weekend trips with your fellow team mates
  • Meet people from all around the world

Especially suitable

Age 18+
Singles
Couples
Families
Groups
50+

About the program

This internship is an exciting opportunity for any current or recently graduated university students who want more work experience or are interested in elephants.

Our Sanctuary 

If you want to have a unique experience hiking in the forest to find the elephants and observing and recording their natural behaviours in their home environment, then Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is the right place for you. Come and join us for the experience of a lifetime. ..

About the program

Our Sanctuary 

If you want to have a unique experience hiking in the forest to find the elephants and observing and recording their natural behaviours in their home environment, then Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is the right place for you. Come and join us for the experience of a lifetime. Volunteers must be physically fit to hike everyday up and down the mountains to get to the elephants. In our sanctuary, you can see exactly where your donations are going and how they are benefiting our sanctuary, our elephants and our community.

Our sanctuary has just rescued 7 elephants from the tourism industry and we have now brought them home to live out their lives in the forest, in semi-wild conditions. We need volunteers to help us keep these elephants happy and healthy in their natural habitat. With volunteer support and donations, we hope to return more elephants to the forest soon. 

Our Village 

Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is set amongst the rolling hills of Northern Thailand in a Karen hill tribe village. It is surrounded by a forest that is perfect for our elephants to roam and forage in. 

The Karen people are originally from Myanmar but they have migrated to Thailand in search of a better life during the wars over many generations. Due to this they have their own language and culture, which volunteers will have the opportunity to learn and experience. They are keen weavers and are well known in Thailand for their elephant keeping. They make an income from their elephants and working in the fields, mainly growing rice and corn using rotational slash and burn. Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn more first-hand about their culture and even help out with the community when required.

This internship is an exciting opportunity for any  current or recently graduated science university students who want more scientific work experience. It is also perfect for anyone with an interest in research or collecting data in the field of animal behaviour. Applicants must have at least some previous data collection experience, but a small amount of training will be provided on arrival.



******For your application******


Please answer the below questions as thoroughly as possible in your application (motivation letter):

1. Please describe any previous experience with in-field research.


2. Please describe any previous experience with data analysis and interpretation.


3. Our research internship at KSES usually involves interns focusing on one area of our research during their stay. This includes elephant foraging (watching one of our elephants for 1.5 hours each day, working with the mahouts to record what they are eating and ID-ing any new plants), elephant behaviour (watching any elephants in sight for 1.5 hours and recording what they are doing every 5 minutes), elephant association (watching any elephants in sight for 1.5 hours and recording their association to each other every 5 minutes) as well as a side project such as analysising our night time camera traps or another project that takes your interest. Personal research projects needed for your own degree or diploma are also possible. Does this sound like something that might interest you?


4. All interns are expected to take part in a fundraiser during their time. This usually involves working as a group with the other interns, setting up an online fundraiser page, running an event onsite such as a sponsored run, survival sleep out, sponsored challenges etc. and sharing this with family and friends. Do you have any previous experience of fundraising?


5. Living in a hilltribe village does mean working and living in a rural, basic and isolated environment, for example, we are a 5 hour drive from the nearest city (Chiang Mai), electricity, phone signal and running water can be unreliable at times, and sometimes you need to take cold bucket showers when there is little to no water running. Accommodation is basic (but comfortable), with your own private room in a homestay, usually with a mattress, on the ground, mosquito net and a shared bathroom. Have you ever lived rurally, basically or isolated before and is this something you think you will struggle with?


6. As we are working and living with another culture, we must ensure the people we bring out to stay come with an open mind and understanding that things will run differently than at home and we must respect all their traditions and culture, even if you do not always agree. This includes, wearing clothes that cover you from your shoulders to your knees and always following staff instructions who know and understand the culture. Do you have any previous experience of working or living together with another culture? 


7. Why did you choose KSES and how did you find out about us?


8. What is the latest time frame you would hope to start the internship if accepted?



Typical day

Our days begin with early morning hikes through the forest to find the elephants, staying with them while observing and taking data on their natural behaviours until lunch and assisting the staff with any visitors or volunteers. Some days lunch is eaten with the elephants in the forest, a very ...

Typical day

Our days begin with early morning hikes through the forest to find the elephants, staying with them while observing and taking data on their natural behaviours until lunch and assisting the staff with any visitors or volunteers. Some days lunch is eaten with the elephants in the forest, a very unique experience! Hikes will usually return to the village around early afternoon. 

The afternoons will consist of data entry and completing project work such as creating a portfolio on our elephants and improving our research ideas, with some evenings being spent giving talks and presentations on elephant research or conservation to create awareness and educate our guests. Interns will work together with our staff and volunteers both in the forest and onsite.


Example of a daily schedule from Monday to Friday:

8am-12pm: Elephant hike & research

12pm-1pm: Lunch

1pm-2pm: Data entry

 2pm-5pm: Project work

 6pm-7pm: Dinner

 7pm-8pm: Free time (Except on Wednesday: Elephant Presentation)


Free-time activities

During free time, interns have the opportunity to have a bamboo raft ride, Thai massage, learn to weave basket weave, weave a scarf, cooking class or explore the surrounding villages and towns. 

Free-time activities

During free time, interns have the opportunity to have a bamboo raft ride, Thai massage, learn to weave basket weave, weave a scarf, cooking class or explore the surrounding villages and towns. 


Requirements

Requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

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 (fluently)

Required Documents

CV and Cover letter

Nationality Restrictions

No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.

Other Skills

Volunteers must have some previous data collection experience for this internship.

Time Commitment

Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

What's Included

What's Included

Services by Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary

The fee covers all of your food and accommodation whilst on project as well as your transport to and from project and Chiang Mai on arrival and departure. It does not include your flights, travel insurance and visa costs. 

Accommodation

We provide an income for our community by housing our guests, volunteers and interns in their own homestay provided by the local people.

All of our home stays are different from each other, some being a private room inside the family home, others being a wooden hut just outside the family home. Some home stays have a western toilet, others have a traditional squat toilet. Each one beautifully unique, just like their welcoming hosts.

The accommodation is basic but comfortable and provides all bedding, a mattress, mosquito net, extension cord to charge electronics, filtered water and usually a shared bathroom with cold showers and toilet paper provided. Hot shower may be provided at our base hut (depending on water pressure). Please be aware that during the dry season there might not be a lot of water available in the pipes for running water, but there will always be a bucket of water in your homestay toilet to be used for showering or flushing the toilet. Electricity can also come off and at different intervals during the dry and rainy seasons. 

Food & Beverages

We provide a basic western breakfast and basic Thai lunch and dinner as well as filtered water. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for.

Internet Access

Limited access at the project site

What's NOT included?

What's NOT included?

Airport Pickup at Chiang Mai International Airport

An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.

Flight Tickets

The nearest airport is Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX) in Chiang Mai. We assist you to find cheap flights to Thailand. FIND CHEAP FLIGHTS

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 Thailand provides security and is a plus to have. GET A QUOTE

Vaccines

If you are intending to volunteer in Thailand you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Thailand. VACCINE CHECKER

Details on arrival

This program takes place all year round.

Availability
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Program fees

6 days (min. stay) 868€
2 weeks 931€
3 weeks 1,274€
4 weeks 1,568€
5 weeks 1,666€
6 weeks 1,862€
7 weeks 2,058€
8 weeks (max. stay) 2,156€
Average fees 641€/week

Program fees

641€ per week 1 - 8 weeks Age 18 - 50+

Payment methods

Visa Master Card Maestro American Express PayPal

NO CREDIT CARD FEES


Duration

1 - 8 weeks

Deposit

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

Your final payment will be agreed with Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.


Meet your organization

Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary

Excellent 4.8 rating (21 reviews)

Non-profit - founded in 2015

Verified by Volunteer World

  Excellent response rate

Coordinated by

Kerri

Spoken languages: English

About the project

Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary work hard to rescue elephants from tourism, return them to the forest and educate our community on sustainable tourism

Meet your organization

Our sanctuary is run by Kindred Spirit Elephant Foundation, a registered NGO in Thailand. We opened our doors in May 2016, with the aim to bring as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat and, at the same time, to work on educating both the public and the locals about elephant treatment and try to combat illegal trade. We, at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, are passionate about elephant welfare and want our elephants to live their lives as naturally and with as little human influence as possible. We do not promote elephant rides or any form of elephant performance.

We also work very closely with the community of our village where the Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary is located. We provide an income for our community by creating homestays for the volunteers to stay in, renting land and creating jobs for the locals. We give back to our wonderful community by teaching English at the school, to the families of the homestays and to the mahouts.

Our elephants have been taken from a life of inadequate health care, poor diet, exhaustion and entertaining tourists; they were unable to just be elephants. We brought these wonderful creatures back to their natural environment where they are living in semi-wild conditions, free to roam as much as possible and live their lives how they choose to – interacting and foraging. We plan to bring elephants of all ages and sizes home to the forest, but we need your help.

There are more than 4,000 captive elephants in Thailand, most of who are living in inadequate conditions with incorrect care and lack of freedom. Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary recognises that this is not the right environment for elephants, which is why we are working towards bringing as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat as well as raising awareness about the captive elephant situation. We work alongside our elephant owners, our community and other organisations to try to bring about a brighter future for all captive elephants.

Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary needs visitors and volunteers on the ground to help us carry out research on our elephants' natural behaviours, perform health checks on the elephants and teach English to our community. Joining us can provide valuable in-field research experience, teaching experience and the opportunity to live abroad immersed into another culture.

Our Elephants

We currently have 4 resident elephants with us at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary, but with volunteer funds and donations, we hope to return more elephants to the forest soon. We have 3 generations in our elephant family, have a look at their stories below and sponsor our elephants if you want to contribute to keeping them in the forest.

Too Meh

Too Meh is our oldest elephant. She is 55 years old and spent her younger days working in the logging industry. When logging was banned in 1989, she was brought to work in the tourist camps where she spent her life entertaining tourists. She spent about 20 years giving elephant rides with a howdah, the iron saddle that is put on their back to carry tourists and gives many elephants back problems. In between elephant rides, she was chained up with very little social interaction time. She has suffered for over 50 years, until now. She is now free to spend her days in the forest, roaming, foraging and interacting with her daughter & grand-son.

Mae Doom

Mae Doom is in her early 20s, is the daughter of Too Meh & auntie of Gen Thong. She has spent her life entertaining tourists and was rescued from a camp where she was giving bareback elephant rides. This camp did not recieve alot of customers and sometimes days would go by with no tourists visiting. This meant that Mae Doom would spend days on end chained in the camp, having no social interaction with the other elephants and spending very little time in her natural environment. Now that she resides at KS Elephant Sanctuary, she has finally been reunited with her mother and nephew and has the freedom to learn from her and walk through the forest as she pleases.

Gen Thong

Gen Thong is our youngest elephant at 4 years old. Gen Thong has had an even more traumatising childhood than most captive elephants. He tragically lost his mother at the age of 2. His mother was chained to a tree below a wasp nest in the tourist camp and was not being watched carefully. The wasp nest fell on her head and stung her many times. Gen Thong was with her, however being so young he was not chained and was able to run away from the wasps unharmed. His mother was not so lucky and sadly passed away due to the poisons of the wasp stings. He then spent a few months under the care of Too Meh, his grandmother, but was then separated from her to undergo his training. After he returned to the elephant camp, he spent his days on a chain being fed bananas by tourists and giving elephant rides. He has now returned to the forest where he lives out his days learning the natural behaviours from his auntie, grandmother and best friend Boon Rott. We couldn’t be more pleased to have him here at KS Elephant Sanctuary.

Boon Rott

Boon Rott is a 10 year old male elephant, who has also lived his life in tourist camps giving rides and performing tricks. When he was born, he was malnutritioned as his mother was unable to produce enough milk. His mother had given birth a few times but Boon Rott was the first of her offspring to survive, due to the combination of her care and their hard working mahouts. Boon Rott has always been highly saught after by many of the tourist camps in the Chiang Mai area because of his high intelligence and ability to perform - some camps using this to exploit him. He is now able to roam free in the forest, not being forced into any un-natural behaviours.

Information

If you want to have a unique experience of hiking in the forest to find the elephants everyday and observe their natural behaviours in their home environment, then you have found the right place. Come and join Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary for the experience of a lifetime. Volunteers and visitors must be physically fit to hike everyday up and down mountains to get to the elephants. In our sanctuary, you can see exactly where your funds and going and how they are benefiting our sanctuary, our elephants and our community.

Volunteers and visitors are expected to wake up early in the morning and be prepared for a long hike into the forest. Hikes will usually return to the village around early afternoon but the day doesn’t end there. Volunteers and visitors will have the opportunity to participate in teaching English at the school, to the homestays and to the mahouts as well receiving education about elephants in Asia and learning the local tribal language and culture. We also have a number of add-ons you can choose such as relaxing with a thai massage or learning how to basket weave. 

Visitors and Volunteers can stay with us for anything from 3 days to 3 months. Although Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary recommends at least a week to get the full experience of our sanctuary. Students who wish to carry out research for their studies are also welcome.

21 reviews · rating4.8

haris turulja rating5

2024 at Elephant Research Internship

It was a pleasure to help such a great cause to rehabilitate elephants back into the wild. We hiked through some awemazing nature trails over some mountains to find the elephants and got to experience their personalities while collecting data on their behaviors. The friendly locals would cook us ...
Darian Weber rating4.6

2017 at Elephant Research Internship

I’ve been in this Karen hilltribe village 180 km west of Chiang Mai for three weeks now. I first saw this research internship posting back home in Canada about two weeks before an already booked flight across the world, in one of the months post-university when I just wanted to get out and ...
TravelTravel rating4.4

2016 at Elephant Research Internship

Volunteering at Kindred Spirit was truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Seeing elephants roaming and foraging in their natural environment was breathtaking. Not only do I feel I contributed to the welfare of these majestic creatures, but I also feel that I benefited the local community. My home-stay ...
Anna Ullmann rating4.6

2016 at Elephant Research Internship

I initially decided to volunteer for Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary because I was looking to work on a project that focused on wildlife conservation, but it turned out to be so much more. Not only was I able to observe the amazing elephants thrive in their natural habitat, but I also got to spend ...
Nadine Reichert rating5

2024 at Visit and Help Elephants

I've booked a 2 nights experience and it was wonderful! After we arrived there was a welcome drink prepared and we were introduced to our homestay. Everything very basic but clean and I really liked it. Started early in the morning on the hikes to the elefants. Beautiful landscape and awesome ...
Kaat Heynen rating5

2023 at Photography Internship

De perfecte combinatie tussen fotografie, conservation en community! Een unieke kans om bij te leren op vlak van wildlife photography. Bovendien is het magisch om de olifanten elke dag weer te zien genieten van hun vrijheid, dankzij Kindred Spirits! De medewerkers zorgen ervoor dat je je meteen ...

Location

Asia > South East Asia > Thailand > Chiang Mai

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