Elephant and Wildlife ConservationSri Lanka

The Elephant and Wildlife Conservation project has an award-winning approach to protecting elephants and wildlife which are found in the national park and local communities.

Volunteers work alongside the local team to support their initiatives to help elephants and communities live together in harmony. You will assist their research to increase the understanding and knowledge of the 300+ elephants and other wildlife including sloth bears, leopards and jungle cats, living in the surrounding area, which helps to protect them for the future.

You will visit the forest national park during your volunteer placement and can explore ancient cities, colourful temples and beautiful wild countryside in your free time.

Join this inspirational project to help wild elephants and wildlife conservation in Sri Lanka.

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Key Info

key info
  • Location: Central Sri Lanka
  • Start dates: Every Sunday
  • Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
  • Age requirement: 18+ (10+ for families or groups)
  • Availability: Spaces available
  • Cost: From £945 / €1040 / $1170 - see fees table below *Special £75 discount for 2019 volunteers**
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Project Information

Volunteer role: What will I be doing?

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. They help the local farmers live alongside over 300 wild elephants and other wildlife by running initiatives to reduce potential conflict.

The team are researching the population and distribution of wildlife including elephants, sloth bears, leopards, rusty-spotted cats, fishing cats, jungle cats, golden palm civets and jackals. This research is used to monitor and understand population changes.

Each day will differ but volunteer tasks include helping with:

  • Elephant monitoring and observations - recording population data (number, gender, age), assessing condition and documenting any injuries
  • Inspecting elephant dung - to monitor the diet of the elephants
  • Camera traps - setting up the camera equipment and examining photos
  • Sand traps - recording tracks captured and setting up new sand traps
  • Bird and wildlife research on transect walks
  • Monitoring fences and elephant paths
  • Assisting in building and mending fencing to protect homes and farmland from damage by elephants
  • Interviewing villagers to document human-elephant conflict and help to identify practical solutions

If you have experience in wildlife photography, research or blogging the local team you could also help the team on specific projects.

“Volunteers help to the projects wildlife research and conservation efforts are invaluable. Volunteers contribute their knowledge, passion, and experience in support of the society’s work to improve understanding and inspire change, not only in their own lives but also on those whose lives they touch.”

Ravi – Project Founder

Typical day

When you arrive you will receive an induction to the volunteer role and project.

Volunteers work 5 days a week (Monday to Friday) from approximately 9am to 7pm with around a 2 hour break for lunch.

The project is located a 10 minute drive from the national park and research is conducted in the communities surrounding the national park. Volunteers may walk for up to 5km a day to reach the research sites and may also travel in the project vehicle to reach more remote locations. You have weekends off and there are plenty of free time activities to enjoy in the area.

Other volunteers

There are usually 6-15 volunteers with a maximum of 30, but this varies throughout the year. You will work alongside local and international staff.

Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award

This placement has been approved by the DofE as meeting the requirements for the Residential section of the Gold Award.

Local support

Indika, Supun and Rashika are key members of the local team who support volunteers in their volunteer placement and at the volunteer accommodation. They have extensive knowledge on the elephants and wildlife in the area and their passion for conservation and research is truly inspiring! 

Accommodation

The main volunteer house is in a beautiful rural location with great views over the lake. You will share a basic bunk-bed dormitory and bathrooms with up to 16 volunteers on a single sex basis. 

Volunteer dormitory room

Alternatively, there is a separate house next door which has private bedrooms and bathrooms; a good option for those wanting more privacy, couples and families. There is a weekly supplement for this option.

In the main volunteer house there is a kitchen and dining area where all volunteers eat together and relax in the evenings. WIFI is not available but there is 3G internet access.

Private room

Meals

All main meals are provided for volunteers during their stay at the project.

Here are typical examples of the food you will have: 

  • Breakfast – bread, jam and lentil dhal
  • Lunch and dinner – a traditional Sri Lankan meal such as noodles and stir fried vegetables, vegetable curry or dhal served with rice

Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed and can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided for you in the volunteer accommodation. 

Location and free time

The project is located on the outskirts of a National Park in central Sri Lanka. The volunteer house is in a stunning rural location overlooking a lake and is nestled below the Knuckles mountain range.

Lakeside views of Kandy

At the weekend volunteers can arrange a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sigiriya Rock fortress which dramatically rises from the central plain; the steep climb up Lion Rock is well worth it for the breath taking views. The scenic city of Kandy is a great place to explore the famous Temple of the Tooth, royal palace or botanical gardens or you can simply relax and take in the atmosphere in a lakeside café. These activities are best booked locally once you are at the project.

Trips

The local team arrange an afternoon trip to the National Park where you will have the opportunity to see many elephants, water buffalo, and maybe even purple-faced langurs, bears and a leopard if you are very lucky! For volunteers joining for 2 weeks or more this is included in your volunteer placement fee. Volunteers joining for a 1 week placement will need to pay the National Park entrance fee (approximately $25). The National Park entrance is a 10 minute drive from the volunteer accommodation and you will be driven around the park.

Travelling in Sri Lanka before or after your placement

Popular activities in Sri Lanka that you might like to combine with your project are:

  • Climbing Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, one of the most dramatic sights in Sri Lanka offering incredible views of the forest below
  • Explore the tea-growing region within the spectacular mountains around Nuwara Eliya 
  • Visit the beautiful city of Kandy, the last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka with plenty to offer including lake views and the famous Temple of the Tooth
  • Spot an abundance of wildlife in one of Sri Lanka's national parks - a paradise for birds, leopards, elephants and many more

For more information on Sri Lanka and some of the things we loved when we visited there please see our Sri Lanka country page

Sigriya, known as Lion Rock

Climate

Central Sri Lanka has a tropical climate. Temperatures are warm throughout the year, with average temperatures varying between 25-27 ˚C. March to May is generally the hottest time of year. 

Intermittent rainfalls can occur year round, however the rainfall is typically highest between October and December. 

Dates

Start dates are every Sunday.

What's Included

Included

  • Dedicated Pod Volunteer Specialist to support you
  • Pick up in Colombo and transfer to the project
  • Accommodation - a basic shared room
  • Food - all main meals
  • Induction
  • Support from the local team
  • Support from the Pod Volunteer UK office by phone and email
  • 24/7 emergency back up
  • Volunteering certificate and reference (on request)

Not included

  • Flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Vaccinations and medication
  • Transfer from Kandy back to Colombo
  • Living costs - snacks, drinks, laundry
  • Entrance fee to national park for afternoon trip (1 week volunteers only) = approx. $25
  • Any tourist trips / activities you choose to do in your free time
Price table
1 week £945 GB Pounds
2 weeks £1045 GB Pounds
3 weeks £1295 GB Pounds
4 weeks £1545 GB Pounds
Extra weeks £195 GB Pounds

Accommodation

There is an additional fee for the private room option – please contact us for details. 

Discounts

  • £75 discount for volunteers starting in 2019
  • £75 discount for every additional project you book as part of the same trip
  • £100 discount for any family members who are under 18
  • £75 discount if you have previously volunteered with Pod Volunteer 

Where the money goes - financial transparency

Your fee covers the overseas costs of volunteering and the costs of running our organisation in the UK, on a non-profit basis.  For more details and a breakdown of our costs please click here.

Book with confidence - financial protection

All monies paid to us are financially protected through The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust Limited (ABTOT). 

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Fees in currencies other than GBP are indicative only and volunteers are invoiced in GBP. For current exchange rates please see www.xe.com

Read volunteer reviews from the Elephant and Wildlife Conservation project

Chris – 2019

“The entire experience was highly enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in wildlife. Whereas other organisations may run projects that appear less ethical, this project did everything right with regard to engagement with local communities and keeping a respectful distance between humans and wild animals. There was a great amount of support both before the trip and from the team in Sri Lanka. 

There was a good range of activities on the placement, which kept things interesting and meant that no two days were ever quite the same. 

The food was good and the opportunity to explore Sri Lanka further on weekends provided a great opportunity to relax after a week's work.”

Sandra – 2019

“The Elephant and Wildlife Conservation Project in Sri Lanka is very worthwhile support! 

The work they are doing is vital to the conservation of elephants and other wildlife in the Wasagamuwa area. If you volunteer for them you will learn about conservation issues and wildlife survey skills, meet the amazing staff and people from around the world, contribute to valuable conservation initiatives, and have the chance to see incredible wildlife. 

It will change your life, I recommend going!”

Matthew – 2018

“Had a very fun, enriching and educational time. The scientists teach you lots about the activities you are doing, the work the society is doing and about the behaviour of the elephants. You will be sure to see some elephants, though it can be variable. But when you do see them it is really spectacular! 

The day is split up well, with a long break in the middle when the temperatures are too high and the sun is too harsh to be outside in. Your morning activity will be something physical that changes every day, and your evening activity is simply going out to try to observe the elephants and collect data on them.

I would highly recommend the project. I had a very memorable experience and came back filled with knowledge and stories to tell!”

Nyree - 2018

“The food is fantastic, I really loved the cuisine, and it was tasty and filling. I enjoyed having the experience of eating a Sri Lankan diet & trying new food. 

Seminars with Chandima on Thursday evenings were brilliant, interesting, informative and at times amusing. We learnt heaps about the project, and were always asked for our opinions and listened to.

I have had a wonderful life enhancing two weeks here, learning things I did not know, developing a skill set I did not have and meeting people of all ages and cultures. It has been better than I thought it would be. If I had to describe this pure experience I would describe it as a raw paradise!”

Read more reviews

300 +

elephants live in the area

"It was an amazing experience that will stay with me forever! Pod Volunteer provided the ideal amount of support and guidance"Satvinder

Lucy

Pod UK Specialist

Apply and you'll hear from Lucy soon!

We look forward to receiving your application! There is no commitment by applying and we will send more information.

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VOLUNTEER REVIEWS

  • Sri Lanka Elephant and Wildlife Conservation volunteer - Sandra

    "We monitor electric fencing, measure elephant droppings and best of all we observe the wild elephant in its natural habitation. And although undoubtedly the elephant is the star of the show there is so much more to see..."

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Sri Lanka Elephant and Wildlife Conservation volunteer - Anna

    "I learnt valuable knowledge about the human elephant conflict in this region and hope to use this knowledge in future volunteering. Thank you so much I have had the most amazing week!"

    Read more volunteer reviews
  • Sri Lanka Elephant and Wildlife Conservation volunteer - Madeline

    "The conservation project was amazing and a great opportunity that I will remember for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed being able to understand the human-elephant conflict of Sri Lanka and the measures in place to reduce it."

    Read more volunteer reviews

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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