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 / €1105 / $1210 - 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 and skills in wildlife photography, research or blogging the local team may ask for your support on specific projects.

Working days and hours

Volunteers work 5 days per week (Monday to Friday) from around 9am to 7pm with a 2 hour break for lunch. You have weekends off and there are plenty of free time activities to enjoy in the area.

Other volunteers

There are usually 8-15 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.

Volunteer Reviews

Read about volunteer experiences and challenges in our Sri Lankan Elephant and Wildlife Conservation reviews.

Why are volunteers needed?

The local team has a limited reach, so volunteers are an important asset providing resource to assist the monitoring, research and data collection of the wildlife in the area, which helps to protect it for future generations.

Volunteers help locals to understand the value of the wildlife they live with and engage young people to have an interest in the environment, while also supporting the local economy.

“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

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. 

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. Please note that there is a weekly supplement for this option.

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

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 – a traditional Sri Lankan meal such as noodles and stir fried vegetables
  • Dinner – vegetable curry and dhal served with rice

Vegetarians and vegans are welcomed and can be catered for.

Drinking water is provided at the volunteer accommodation for you to use. 

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.

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.

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).

Travelling in Sri Lanka before or after your placement

It’s clear to see why Sri Lanka is growing in popularity with so much on offer on the tropical island. Opportunities to watch wild elephants, wander amongst rolling tea plantations, visit colourful temples or trek through ancient cities are all within easy reach. Popular activities in Sri Lanka include:

  • Exploring the ancient rock fortress of Sigiriya
  • Relaxing on the stunning South Coast beaches
  • Watching the world go by while travelling by train past waterfalls, valleys and tea estates

To find out more, see the Lonely Planet Sri Lanka

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

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

Maddy

“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 this organization have put in place to reduce it. I have really enjoyed all the activities I got to experience while being here, especially visiting and interviewing farmers as well as visiting the National Park and seeing the beautiful elephants.”

Mark

“My experience here has been wonderful. Firstly, it was great to learn about why there is human-elephant conflict and how it affects people’s lives. Moreover, I also got to know about the efforts put in to solve this problem in order to protect the elephant population and to create a better living environment for everyone.

The various activities such as making sand traps, observing elephants, monitoring fences are really interesting and enriching. Last but not least, people I have met here are great. The staffs are friendly, kind and knowledgeable.”

Linn

“Today I had my last day here at the project and I could not have had a better last day. We saw like 20 elephants and they were all so close. Amazing! I have now been here for three weeks and I have had an amazing time here. This is such a great project with really determined people who wants to make a change and preserve the elephants and their habitat. The whole project is very complex and covers a lot of things.”

Rebecca

“I have spent 3 weeks volunteering, it has been an amazing time. I have learned a lot about elephants in general and other species, like birds, that live in Sri lanka, and I got aware of the elephant human conflicts. I had the chance to observe elephants in the wild in a beautiful environment. I had the chance to get in contact with local people, getting to learn more about their habits than what a normal tourist does. The conservation work we had to do every day is very interesting, the locations are stunning. The people that work together with the volunteers are really nice and helpful.

The field house is placed in a wonderful spot, so the view is amazing as well as the surroundings, and although very basic, it is comfortable enough to live in.”

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.

Apply

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