Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka
Make a dream a reality working with elephants in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Help to promote the protection and survival of these endangered elephants in the depths of Sri Lanka’s stunning interior. Become part of an important initiative to help elephants and communities live together – and experience the incredible privilege of working with these gentle giants.
100 years ago, upwards of 20,000 elephants roamed the forests and grasslands of the beautiful island of Sri Lanka. Today, thanks to increased farming and habitat destruction, just 5,000 of these gentle giants live outside of captivity. The elephant, the symbol of Sri Lanka, is sacred here and plays a hugely prominent role- and this makes their decline all the more devastating.
You will be joining a multiple award-winning charity in their quest to encourage the survival of elephants living in the wild in Sri Lanka. You will be working with local scientists and conservationists to conduct research on a variety of elephant conservation projects. Alongside this conservation work you will have the privilege of witnessing elephants in the wild.
What will I be doing?
Each day you will be out and about working in the elephant’s natural habitat. You will be getting very hands on with the research, observation and preservation of these remarkable creatures in an effort to protect them for future generations. Sri Lanka is one of the top 25 most bio diverse countries and this project strives to maintain this delicate balance.
Your days will be varied and exciting, touching upon a variety of tasks:
- Monitoring the elephants and other wildlife in the area (keep an eye out for the elusive leopard!)
- Trekking through the jungle to follow the elephants’ grazing trail
- Identifying and photographing the elephants in the area
- Conducting research from a tree house overlooking the elephants’ traditional grazing ground
- Teaching environmental awareness to school children
- Working with locals to help improve their lives living alongside these elephants
- Researching the proliferation of elephants at different sites, from water holes to the wilderness, from frequently used tracks to forgotten trails
- Carrying out mammal and bird surveys
The area in which you will be working is absolutely stunning. Throughout your time here you will be trekking through mountains, jungles and wetlands to get to know intimately the lives of the elephants and what they are up to. On this journey you will come into contact with the friendly locals, swim in beautiful lakes and encounter some lush terrain. This is all part of what makes this project magical.
Accommodation and food
The accommodation on this project affords some of the most beautiful views of any of the volunteer projects that Oyster runs. The volunteer house is based in the central forests of Sri Lanka, surrounded by a ring of mountains. It is located just outside a small village and close to the beautiful Wasgamuwa National Park. The views from the house look out onto a striking mountain range and a large reservoir- not a bad vista to wake up to, especially when there are elephants bathing!
The house is basic yet comfortable. You will share a room with one or two other people. There are western toilets and showers heated by the sun. This is an attractive and relaxing base from which your adventures will take place.
Meals are provided and are an excellent introduction to Sri Lankan food. Prepare for lots of delicious curries, rice and fruits. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for.
When should I book?
Whilst late-availability is possible, we would advise booking as soon as you can to guarantee your ideal dates. Our projects are very popular and spaces can fill up several months in advance, especially for the months of June to September.
- Become an important part of an award-winning conservation project that promotes the survival of Sri Lanka’s wild elephants.
- Work alongside local scientists and conservationists to monitor wild elephants and collect data that will inform conservation efforts.
- Get involved with local communities to help them live in harmony with the elephants.
- Live in a stunning location surrounded by mountains, jungles and wetlands.
- Become part of a local community, and experience their famed hospitality.
Whyshould I do this?
If working with elephants has always appealed to you, helping them to remain in the wild is an inspiring opportunity. This project is conservation at its most poignant. Not only will you be doing something tangible and worthwhile, but you will be contributing to the long-term protection of endangered elephants.
Witnessing elephants almost every day quietly grazing, or splashing around in the waterholes, is something so special. This could be one of the last places in the world where you can see elephants living in the wild- and what a stunning wilderness it is too!
You should arrive in Colombo (CMB) on a Sunday. You will be collected from the airport and transferred a hotel just outside the centre of Colombo.
You will be collected early in the morning from your hotel for your transfer to the project site.
What is provided
- Before booking: Dedicated period of time on the phone or in person to discuss the project, answer any questions that you might have and find out more about you
- Access to your personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the programme and manage your booking.
- Airport collection
- First night in a hotel in Colombo (meals not included)
- Transfer from your hotel to the project site on public transport
- Return transfer from the project site back to Kandy train station on public transport (train ticket from Kandy to Colombo not included)
- Shared accommodation at the project site
- Meals and soft drinks at the project site
- Full training and all project costs
- Orientation and briefings
- Donation to the project
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and placement advice
- Help and advice from our UK office before departure and whilst away
- Advice on visa and health requirements for project
- Oyster will prepare you thoroughly before you leave and support you while you are out there
- Local support in Sri Lanka from English speaking staff
- ATOL financial protection (if Oyster books your flight)
- Oyster Worldwide volunteer t-shirt
- Oyster luggage tag
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
What do I need
- A full passport valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry to Sri Lanka
- Travel insurance
- Flights – these can be organised by Oyster which gives you ATOL protection
- Cost of changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Food costs when not at the project site
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks,entertainment (allow maybe £50 per week depending on lifestyle)
- Onward travel and accommodation from Kandy train station after your project is completed
- Visa (we can advise on how to get this)
- No compulsory inoculations are necessary, although do check with your doctor to make sure polio, typhoid and Hep A&B jabs are up to date.