As an online volunteer, give your time to a conservation and community charity which is striving to continue its essential conservation efforts through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. You will be working with local scientists and conservationists to conduct vital research to protect the wild elephant population and communities living alongside each other in rural Sri Lanka.

Duration: 2 – 3 weeks depending on the programme that you choose
Dates: You can start whenever you are ready – simply book and begin!
Eligibility: Requirement of access to the internet, a computer, Zoom and Skype.
Age: 12+


  • Virtually experience activities in the wild to promote the survival of elephants and communities in Sri Lanka
  • Learn about field research, wildlife conservation and the importance of community-led conservation efforts from the comfort of your own home
  • Help a charity to continue its vital work in a flexible and affordable manner
  • Become involved remotely in a community that is far off the beaten track
  • Meet other international volunteers and work with experienced scientists to contribute to something important
  • Save £50 if you book 2 of these projects, or save £100 if you choose to do all 3 of them
  • 20% discount off the residential volunteer project in Sri Lanka if you complete the online volunteering project


From the comfort of your own home, join a multiple award-winning charity in their quest to encourage the survival of elephants living in a remote corner of Sri Lanka. The work that you will assist with is essential to help the charity to continue their vital role of helping humans and wildlife to live alongside each other sustainably.

A century ago, more than 20,000 elephants lived in the wild in Sri Lanka. Today, due to increased farming and elephant habitat destruction, just 5,000 of these gentle giants live within their natural social structures outside of captivity. The elephant, the symbol of the country, is considered sacred – and this makes their decline all the more devastating. This online volunteering project encourages remote volunteers to help conservation efforts through research, analysis, social media and raising awareness – all of which help the conservation fund to reduce elephant poaching and promote local livelihoods.

The online volunteering program curriculum is designed provide background information through readings and presentations, lesson plans, interactive exercises and discussions, graphics, photos, videos, worksheets, quizzes, homework and independent assignments. You can choose the project which suits you best from the list below. Prior experience or knowledge is not required. You will need to have access to a computer, the internet, Skype and Zoom. Lectures will be scheduled in a way that will be most convenient for all participants in different time zones on the course.

An elephant education: learn about the Asian elephant and why it is under threat

The sessions will be 2 hours twice per week for a duration of 2 weeks – days and times will be confirmed based on participant availability, offering complete flexibility

This introductory workshop, taught by a researcher, aims to teach you about Asian elephants, why they need help and what is being done to help them. You will learn more about the charity and the work that they are doing to conserve the elephant in the wild.

The following topics will be covered:

  • The Asian elephant in history and legend
  • Status and distribution of the Asian elephant
  • Asian elephant behaviour and physique
  • Captive elephants and wild elephants
  • Human elephant conflicts
  • Conservation & Management

Elephant identification: how understanding elephants helps conservation

The sessions will be 2 hours twice per week for a duration of 2 weeks – days and times will be confirmed based on participant availability, offering complete flexibility

The identification of individuals is one of the first steps in studying animal behaviour and conservation. The objectives and goals of the course is to understand how social behaviour drives movements, reproduction, population dynamics and social bonds through studying individually identified elephants.

Led by an ecologist, you will learn how to identify an elephant and tell the difference between various elephants. You will receive reading material and an introductory lecture to learn about elephant ID and the project you will be completing. Once your induction has been completed, you will receive elephant ID card templates and a data set of individual elephants and elephant herds. Your task will be to:

  • Analyse photographs to identify individual elephants, their sex and their age
  • View video footage of individuals, groups or herds
  • Fill elephant ID catalogue cards and input data

Community volunteering: reduce human-elephant conflict through research and social media

The sessions will be 2 hours three times per week for a duration of 3 weeks – days and times will be confirmed based on participant availability, offering complete flexibility

Through research and data collection, it has been found that orange trees are a natural deterrent for elephants. Over the past 5 years, volunteers have been helping to plant orange trees around farmers’ fields to naturally prevent elephants from crop raiding. This has become one of the most important conservation methods to date, not only protecting the elephants from angry farmers, but also giving the farmers a sustainable income.

To date, this project has effectively minimised human-elephant conflict for 468 farmers in 27 villages, creating an environment where humans and elephants can coexist. Online volunteers will take part in mitigating human elephant conflicts, helping poor farmers to safeguard their crops, properties and lives from wild elephants whilst also protecting elephants from illegal killing, harassment or injury. Participants of this program learn the following:

  • Wild elephant behaviour, ecology and biology
  • A broad understanding of human-elephant conflict in Sri Lanka
  • Participate in a program that is providing a holistic solution to mitigate human-elephant conflict
  • Help to create coexistence between people and elephants

Research activities:

  • Use photographs and video clips to help monitor and evaluate orange groves
  • Record the growth, condition and health of orange trees
  • During the harvest season, collect information on volume, sales and income
  • Update database and analyse the data

Promotional and fundraising tasks:

  • Design promotional material and make short program videos
  • Write press releases, articles, blogs and social media posts
  • Contact media sponsors and create crowdfunding campaigns
  • Promote project through social media platforms
  • Prepare newsletters and update the website
  • Support the elephant conservation fund through online measures


  • Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
  • Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
  • Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
  • In-country support
  • Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
  • Gold level, 24/7 Pharos crisis management and incident support cover
  • Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
  • Thorough orientation on arrival
  • Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
  • Advice on visa requirements
  • Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions

Not Included

  • Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
  • You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
  • Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
  • Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
  • Independent travel costs
  • Home country travel costs
  • Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
  • Access to the internet, a computer, Skype and Zoom

More Information

Online volunteering has grown in popularity since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Many charities could only continue to achieve their work through online volunteering programmes, where volunteers helped them remotely to keep things ticking over. Online volunteering became so popular for participants too, that it has now become a fixed feature in our offerings. To be able to give your time and energy to a good cause, all whilst learning about what they do and why, is an incredible thing to do from the comfort of your own home.

If working with elephants has always appealed to you, helping them to remain in the wild is an inspiring opportunity. This elephant 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.

This project is a fantastic way to get conservation experience, all whilst playing the important role of helping with saving elephants!

With the rise of agriculture to support a growing population in this part of the world, the land in which the elephants can live freely has been dramatically reduced. Increasingly these elephants will venture into farmer’s land where they will wreak devastation by feeding on the crops. The work of 3 months can be undone by just one elephant in one night.

This volunteer project works hard to protect boundaries between humans and elephants to create a sustainable future for both species. In addition to this, huge importance is placed upon integrating humans and elephants, so that local communities will feel empowered and able to embrace their country’s icon once more. This project is important as it helps the conservation efforts of the conservation program, ultimately leading to a reduction in the killing of elephants. Without this volunteer project, the future of wild Asian elephants in Sri Lanka is not encouraging.


You can book at any stage for a start date of your preference. There are a limited number of people on each course at any one time so it is best to book ahead where possible. We will confirm starting availability once we receive your booking.

  • Our online volunteers come from a variety of different countries and backgrounds.
  • Elephant conservation in Sri Lanka is possible for everyone aged 14+
  • You must have access to a computer, the internet, Skype and Zoom.
  • You do not need any previous experience

Ideally, you will be able to attend all online sessions. However, if you are unable to make one of them, it is possible to watch a recording of the session at a later time.

Got a question or want to chat to Project Manager Georgie who has first-hand experience of the project? Call +44 (0) 1892 771 977or email: – [email protected].

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