Of the 50,000 elephants once living in Thailand, there are only around 2,000 left today. Both free-living and domesticated elephants are threatened with extinction, which makes it hard to believe that only sixty years ago more than 50,000 roamed free in the wild. Wild elephants are hunted for their ivory and their habitats are cleared and converted into plantations. Domesticated elephants are mainly used as tourist attractions, and the lack of adequate care and appropriate living conditions has caused them to become just as threatened as those in the wild.
Unfortunately, there is no law for the protection of these animals, which is why they urgently need the help and support of our volunteers!
The sanctuary for endangered elephants is in the southern part of central Thailand. The sanctuary is set across 7 acres of safe habitat, for them to roam freely and recover from their ordeals. The facility is actually the first chain-free elephant protection organisation in asia! The elephants living here were rescued by the sanctuary after being captured or raised as livestock, mostly for use in the tourism or construction industry. Many of them are elderly, blind, or suffering from ill health. The oldest elephant onsite is 75 years old!
As a volunteer, you’ll learn all there is to know about taking care of these magnificent animals. Every day you will go on an ‘elephant walk’ through the area so that they can get the exercise they need. Then it is bath time! Brushing and spraying off the animals is very important – they are only touched when necessary and the sanctuary try to keep human interaction to a minimum. Next, it is time for food preparation! This may sound relatively routine but actually it is quite a sophisticated task! The sanctuary try to keep meal times as close to their natural habitat as possible, so you’ll be hiding food inside bamboo tubes or in nets hung high up in the tree. Elephants eat a lot of banana trees, so you will spend time harvesting the fruit with other volunteers. When mealtime is over, you will clean the shelters out and help to keep the facility well maintained, as well as keeping your own accommodation clean and tidy.
Your working hours will be discussed with you upon arrival, but even on working days you will have time to run errands or take a break. On the weekends, many volunteers like to take trips to the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui – it is like a tropical dream and not one to miss! Our team will be on hand to help you organise bigger trips, such as visits to Bangkok or further up the coast!