Elephants, elephants and more elephants!

Project & Pod News / 10 August 2018 Elephants, elephants and more elephants!

Although they are a much loved creature by many, the last century has seen the elephant faced with difficulties that have seriously threatened the number of these amazing mammals left in the wild. Issues such as large-scale poaching for the ivory trade, loss of habitat and conflict with humans has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of both wild African and Asian elephants over the last century, with African elephants decreasing by around 90% and Asian elephants by around 50%. 

The love and appreciation many humans have for elephants is often due to the intelligence and group dynamics they display – led by a matriarch, the social structure of elephants is separated into females and calves, while male elephants tend to live more of an isolated life. The bond between herd members is so strong that research shows African elephants will ‘mourn’ the loss of a member of the herd! Studies into the behaviour of Asian elephants have also discovered that they will console each other when distressed through both physical contact and vocal sounds as forms of comfort.

Elephants have also been observed demonstrating self-awareness, using tools and even problem-solving! This level of self-awareness is thought to be linked to more complex forms of perspective taking and empathy – yet another reason why it is so important to protect these incredible animals!

Regardless of how cute they are, elephants also play a vital role in maintaining ecosystems – elephants can directly influence the composition of the areas they live in which can, in turn, alter the broader landscape.

In the tropical forests wild Asian elephants inhabit, they create clearings and spaces in the canopy which encourage an increase in the growth of trees. In savannah environments where African elephants roam, the sheer amount of vegetation they consume twinned with their constant migration means that the bush cover is reduced – this creates an environment favourable for both browsing and grazing animals!


At Pod Volunteer, we are passionate advocates for the protection and conservation of our big eared friends and, as such, we currently have six projects that involve working with either African or Asian elephants! We are looking for volunteers to help our elephant teams around the world and here you can find out a bit more about each project: 

Elephant and Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka

What makes this project special? 

Watching the wild elephants as the sun sets is a perfect way to end each work day! The project is unique in Sri Lanka as their award-winning model focuses on researching wild elephants whilst working with the community to help them live peacefully together. Our volunteers stay in a beautiful location overlooking the lake and surrounded by the Knuckles Mountains – plus, it’s a perfect starting point for spending a weekend exploring the famous ancient citadel of Sigiriya.

You can find out more about the Sri Lanka Elephant and Wildlife Conservation project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-wildlife-conservation-sri-lanka 

Elephant Care in Thailand

What makes this project special? 

Seeing the elephants cooling off by having a swim and playing in the lake! This project provides refuge to domesticated elephants that have been rescued from the logging and tourism industries, many of whom arrive with severe health issues and bear the scars of previous abuse. Not only do volunteers help care for rescued elephants, but the local team are also very active in campaigning and raising awareness around the use and abuse of animals in Thailand. In their free time, volunteers can explore the beautiful local area and fascinating night markets in the popular destination of Hua Hin or visit one of the nearby national parks and see some wonderful wildlife!

You can find out more about the Thailand Elephant Care project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-care-thailand 

Desert Elephant Conservation in Namibia

What makes this project special?

Tracking the elephants along the river bed and being able to watch the magnificent elephants in their natural environment! This award-winning project works to research and protect one of only two populations of Desert Elephants in the whole of Africa, promoting a peaceful relationship between the elephants and the local farming communities. Volunteers get back to basics, camping out in the desert, cooking over a camp fire and watching shooting stars each night while lying in bed. Nearby Swakopmund is a great base to explore more of Namibia before or after your placement too!

You can find out more about the Namibia Desert Elephant Conservation project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-conservation-namibia 

There is a Family Trip available to this project too! Find out more about the Namibia Desert Elephant Conservation Family Trip here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-conservation-namibia-family 

Elephant Conservation in Cambodia

What makes this project special?

Living and working with elephants who have been rescued from a life of confinement in the tourist trade or logging industry and now spend their days roaming around a 1500 acre forest! Volunteers are off the beaten track at this project which means their focus is truly on the elephants. Volunteers support a local team in providing health checks to the elephants, observing and monitoring their behaviour and harvesting pineapple and banana trees for their food! Volunteers also work to support the maintenance of the sanctuary and assist with community development initiatives to ensure that humans and elephants can live harmoniously.

You can find out more about the Elephant Conservation project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-sanctuary-cambodia 

Elephant Care and Research in South Africa

What makes this project special? 

Discovering each of the elephant’s individual characteristics by closely watching and caring for the beautiful giants in the park makes this a very special placement to join. Volunteers join an active research team collecting data to guide best practice worldwide for management of captive elephants. The team live on the famous Garden Route which is ideally located close to the stunning coastline, wildlife reserves and vineyards of South Africa.

You can find out more about the Elephant Care and Research project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/elephant-research-south-africa 
 

Kruger Conservation in South Africa

What makes this project special?

Being in Greater Kruger National Park and witnessing African elephants truly in the wild! The incredible landscapes volunteers will be working in makes you realise how vast this part of the world is and how important it is to conserve this for all members of the animal kingdom who call this place home. You will join a team in collecting integral data which is used to create conservation plans for the animals inhabiting this area of Greater Kruger National Park, living in a peaceful, remote camp by the Olifants River (that is Afrikaans for elephants!). If you’re lucky, you might spot some elephants making their way through your camp or bathing in the river!

You can find out more about the Kruger Conservation project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/leopard-monitoring-south-africa 

Big 5 Conservation in South Africa

What makes this project special? 

Being part of a team who are actively researching techniques to prevent human-wildlife conflict! Unfortunately, the damage that elephants can cause to farmer’s livelihoods can be quite severe so being a part of a project that is the first inclusive reserve in South Africa which has humans co-existing with wildlife close to an urban area is pretty special!

You can find out more about the Big 5 Conservation project here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/projects/big-5-conservation 

Find out more!

To see all the Elephant projects we have on offer, you can visit our page dedicated to volunteering with them here: https://www.podvolunteer.org/project-type/elephants

Sources:
http://wwf.panda.org/knowledge_hub/endangered_species/elephants/ 
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/08/elephants-mourning-video-animal-grief/ 
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/02/140218-asian-elephants-empathy-animals-science-behavior/ 
https://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/elephants-body-awareness-adds-to-increasing-evidence-of-their-intelligence 
https://onekindplanet.org/animal-behaviour/tool-use/tool-use-in-elephants/ 
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0023251 
https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/elephant

Back

SHARE THIS ARTICLE...

Share this article with your friends and followers by using the social media buttons below:

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal