EP1 ELEPHANT SANCTUARY
Elective Programme 1 (EP1)
Give back and help Elephants in need as an Elephant Conservation Volunteer
Camp Thailanders can contribute and participate in a week-long (or longer) program at the end of their 3-week Camp Thailand intake.
There are 2 programs for you to choose between and they are both AMAZING!
Alternative # 1: Save Elephant Foundation’s – Surin Project
Alternative # 2: Country Roads’ Take me Home Elephant Freedom Program
About the “Save Elephant Foundation”
Camp Thailand is proud and honoured to be able to be partnered with the “Save Elephant Foundation”. We donate 5% of our merchandise sales to Save Elephant’s Foundation’s Surin Project and we sponsor and support an Elephant in the Surin Project in the name of all of our Camp Thailand participants and staff. You can encourage others to do the same. Save Elephant Foundation is a Thai non–profit organization dedicated to providing care and assistance to Thailand’s captive elephant population through a multifaceted approach involving local community outreach, rescue and rehabilitation programs, and educational ecotourism operations. Each of their flagship projects are aimed at accomplishing that mission, as well as working towards these goals:
- to expand self-sustaining eco-tourism operations that benefit local communities and ecosystems
- to better incorporate efforts into local communities and to ensure their benefit through continuing operation
- to become a leader in the field of Asian elephant research through academic outreach and education programs
- to create practical, positive reinforcement based elephant training and rehabilitation programs
- to establish an international volunteer community that raises awareness to issues facing the Asian elephant
- to more fully integrate with the global conservation community to facilitate dynamic cross-cultural networking
About the “Save Elephant Foundation” Founder
Sangduen “Lek” Chailert was born in 1962 in the small hill tribe village of Baan Lao, two hours north of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Her love for elephants began when her grandfather, a traditional healer, received a baby elephant as payment for saving a man’s life. Lek would spend many hours with her newfound friend, named Tongkum (Golden One), resulting in a passion that would shape the rest of her life, as well as the lives of others.
With a love and respect for her country’s national symbol, and the knowledge that they were becoming endangered, Lek began advocating for the rights and welfare of the Asian elephants in Thailand. In an industry steeped in tradition, advocating for positive change in the ways domestic and wild Asian elephants are treated has not been an easy battle. However, with hard work and determination her voice is now internationally recognized. In addition to several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards.
Lek’s mission continues to affect others as her voice is heard throughout the world. Her story and voice have made an impact in the minds of all who give their lives to animal welfare and conservation. Lek’s mission to save the Asian elephants continues to expand. She has formed the Save Elephant Foundation and a dedicated team works tirelessly by her side to protect the Asian elephant.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Lek to Washington, DC in 2010 to honor her as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation. But, the accolades do not end there. Lek was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her work in conservation in 2005 and the Ford Foundation’s “Hero of the Planet” in 2001.
Lek has earned two honorary degrees from Rajabaht Chiang Mai University – a PhD in Sustainability and Conservation and a PhD in Veterinary Science. Finally, the National Geographic documentary Vanishing Giants, highlighting Lek’s work with the Asian elephant, was recognized by the Humane Society of the United States with the Genesis Award in 2003.
Today, Lek continues to be at the forefront of elephant (and other animal rights causes), raising international awareness and encouraging other countries in the region to follow her lead, as well as helping provide sustainable alternatives to local villages. At the same time, she maintains special relationships with the animals she rescues. Most days, she can be found at Elephant Nature Park spending time with the rescued herd.
Save Elephant Foundation’s - Surin Project
The Surin Project is a unique and innovative concept aimed at improving the living conditions of captive Asian elephants by providing economic sustainability for their owners through responsible volunteer tourism. We work alongside the Gwi community in the Surin Elephant Study Centre located in the village of Ban Tha Klang in the Surin Province in North East Thailand
The Surin Project’s main focus is to get some of the elephants in the study centre out into more natural surroundings where volunteers can walk alongside them and observe these magnificent creatures acting like elephants should be. This offers the mahouts who own the elephants an alternative form of employment to elephant riding or elephant shows which are the main forms of income for many mahouts in the area to support their elephants and families.
Surin Project – Elephant Conservation Volunteer
Location: Surin province – NE Thailand by Cambodian Border
Duration: One to Eight Weeks
The Surin Project is a unique and innovative concept aimed at improving the living conditions of captive Asian elephants by providing economic sustainability for their owners through responsible volunteer tourism. We work alongside the Gwi community in the government run Surin Elephant Study Centre located in the village of Ban Tha Klang in the Surin Province in North East Thailand .
The Surin Project's main focus is to get some of the elephants in the study centre out into more natural surroundings where volunteers can walk alongside them and observe these magnificent creatures acting like elephants should be.
This offers the mahouts who own the elephants an alternative form of employment to elephant riding or elephant shows which are the main forms of income for many mahouts in the area to support their elephants and families.
What to Expect
Volunteers coming to the Surin Project should expect to be immersed in the local Gwi culture in the remote village of Ban Tha Klang. Working alongside the mahouts and the local community they will learn more about this unique culture and their relationship with elephants.
Most importantly volunteers will get a chance to go out on daily walks to observe the Surin Project elephants interacting with each other in a more natural setting without being ridden.
During their stay in the village volunteers can expect an attack on their senses and will see some of the realities of how captive elephants can be used in the area.
The Surin Project is like Elephant Nature Park, with some considerable differences:
- the land is government-owned, so our ability to build new structures is limited
- The Surin Project does not own or buy any elephants, the elephants are owned by their mahouts, so how they are treated is ultimately not our decision. The mahouts who join the project agree to leave their bullhooks at home and to take part in project activities. However they are free to leave at any time with their elephant. It's up to us to provide them with enough incentive to stay on the project and support our concept (we can only do this with volunteer support).
- There can be between 150-200 elephants living at the Study Centre, The Surin Project can only support up to 12 elephants at a time.
- Elephants that are not members of the Surin Project can be kept on their chains for most of the day with little or no shade. Many show signs of stress which we call stereotypical behaviour
- Many of the elephants in the area can be used for other forms of elephant tourism in the area such as the local elephant show and elephant riding which we do not support.
- Volunteers may be exposed to a certain amount of suffering during their stay because of these surroundings and can witness the use of the bullhook which many mahouts in the area use to control their elephants.
For many, this may put them off wanting to volunteer here, however, they must remember that with their presence here, they are taking part in something positive, and although it may seem like they can't do much to help the other elephants in the area they are helping show the mahouts and local community that they want to see a better form of tourism for the elephants. If they don't see these benefits they will only keep doing what they know.Hopefully, in time as volunteer numbers increase and we show the local mahouts that people are willing to see elephants in this way we will adapt their mindset to be more considerate of the elephant's welfare and expand our ability to support more elephants and mahouts in this area.
Accommodation and food
You will be living on site in basic but comfortable accommodation. You can have a room to yourself or share with a partner or friend if you wish. Here you will fall asleep to the sounds of elephants calling. Volunteers will eat together for every meal. The food is excellent, with a buffet style breakfast and dinner with many different dishes to choose from. We also support local noodle shops and restaurants where you will eat lunch. Vegan and vegetarian food is always available and all dietary restrictions are catered to.
What is Provided?
- Transport from Buriram to the Project and back
- Clean, convenient accommodation on site. Rooms come equipped with mattress, sheets, pillow, mosquito net and fan
- Three delicious meals per day, served in buffet style with great amount of choice
- Surin Project t-shirt
- Reusable water bottle and pouch
- Drinking water and ice
- English speaking staff on hand at all times to ensure your safety and be on hand to answer questions and provide you with a practical education about elephants, the culture and anything else you may have questions about.
What do I need?
- A full passport valid for the duration of your stay.
- Insurance (covering your placement time and any planned independent travel).
- Any additional costs such as trips, snacks, soft drinks, entertainment, souvenirs etc (allow a few hundred Baht per day depending on lifestyle).
All About Your Volunteering Position:
|Starting From:||Arrive on Monday no later than 3pm.|
Depending on where you want to return to you will either leave on Saturday evening or Sunday morning.
We suggest that you travel as lightly as possible. We recommend that you take the following:
Essential items: Flashlight, Earplugs, Alarm clock/watch, Basic First Aid kit, personal medication, Towel, personal toiletries, sunscreen, Insect repellant, flip flops, closed shoes, long sleeved shirts and trousers, extra socks.
clothing (Cold season: November - February; can get quite cold at night times).
|What to Bring:||
Recommended but not essential: reading material, travel games, camera, small daypack, gardening gloves, wide brimmed hat- we can provide gloves and hats on site if you do not have these items.
Important Note about clothing: Please remember to pack clothes that are respectful to the local culture- t-shirts that cover your shoulders, shorts that come down to your knees- No bikini's, string vest tops or hot pants allowed. You will be asked to change if you are wearing any of these items.
|Operational Months:||All Year Round.|
|Accommodation:||Clean, convenient accommodation on site.|
|Meals:||Three delicious meals per day.|
|Other||A practical education on the challenges facing elephant conservation, free t-shirt and reusable water bottle|
|Volunteer Contribution:||The cost to volunteer for one week (Monday - Sunday) is 17,000 Baht.(approx.. 369 GBP)|
Testimonials on Trip Advisor about the Surin Project
Surin Project Video on their page and on You Tube
Alternative # 2: Country Roads’ Take Me Home Elephant Freedom Program
Please visit: www.ElephantFreedom.Me Facebook: Country Roads Elephant Freedom
Thailand’s endangered elephant population is in need of urgent help.In 2005 the government of Surin Province created the “Take Me Home” project with the objective of freeing elephants from street begging in busy cities and tourist areas and bringing them and their mahouts back to Surin province. The Surin government set aside 2,000 acres for this initiative and created the Elephant Study Center. Currently the center subsidizes close to 200 mahouts and their elephants and families living at the center’s grounds located in Baan Ta Klang village in Surin province. Several of these elephants and their mahouts and families participate in the “Country Roads’ Elephant Freedom Project. To participate in the project, mahouts have to agree not to use chains or “hooks” on their elephants and to enroll their children into English Language classes which are provided to them free at no cost by Camp Thailand volunteers.
Volunteers are of paramount importance to the success of the Country Roads’ Freedom Project. They help the project explore ecologically sustainable and elephant-friendly tourism options. They stay onsite and help the famers and mahouts in reforesting elephant areas. Volunteers plant grass, sugarcane, and bamboo and help build shelters for the elephants. They also spend time cutting bamboo and preparing food for the elephants and are expected to help with chores, cleaning the home-stay area and the elephant shelters. Volunteers also provide elephants with daily walks to watering holes. Walking the elephants to the river and helping to bathe them provides an excellent opportunity to witness these marvelous creatures in their natural environment. There are two schools in the village but they do not have the budget to afford a full-time native English speaking teacher. We rely on the goodwill of our volunteers to provide English language training to the children.
Your volunteer program fees provide a revenue stream that is needed to support the elephants and their mahouts and their families. Elephants are provided with more freedom and a more peaceful life and the mahouts and their families get to live a more traditional lifestyle and through English language tuition you provide the opportunity of a better future for the children. The good deeds that come out of the project have a big influence in luring other mahouts from the cities to bring their elephants to Surin so they and their families can also experience a better life.
The Country Roads’ Freedom Project is currently working with 6 female elephants, including a baby male, and part-time male elephants that join the volunteers several times a week to walk to the river. The Project hopes to one day provide better conditions for all the elephants in the center.
ELEPHANT FREEDOM – ONE WEEK PROGRAM
8 a.m. Travel by air conditioned coach from Bangkok to Surin
3 p.m. Pick up in Surin and travel to Country Roads’ Elephant Freedom Project 4 p.m. Check in to your accommodations. You will share a fan cooled room with another volunteer in a homestay at the project. N.B. Private air conditioned rooms are available for an additional surcharge of 500 THB per room per night. 5 p.m. Program Orientation
6 p.m. Welcome Meal and Movie Night
7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Continental breakfast: Cereal, Toast, jam and tea or coffee 8 a.m. – 8.30 a.m. Meet your assigned elephant and mahout and clean the shelter.
8.30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Help prepare and feed the elephants breakfast 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. Feed the elephants. 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Planting plants, grass and trees that will sustain the elephants in the future 11.00 a.m. Walk to the shelter
11.30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunchtime 1 p.m. – 2.30 p.m. Irrigate the plants and sugar cane 2.30 p.m. – 4 p.m. Clean the elephants 6 p.m. Evening meal
6 a.m. – 7 a.m. Travel with the mahouts to gather sugar cane for the Elephants’ breakfast
7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Continental breakfast: Cereal, Toast, jam and tea or coffee 8 a.m. – 8.30 a.m. Clean the shelter. 8.30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Help prepare and feed the elephants breakfast 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Visit the Elephant Dung Factory 11.30 a.m. – 1 p.m. Lunchtime 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Thai Lesson 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) Training
6 p.m. Evening Meal
7 a.m. – 7.30 a.m. Continental breakfast: Cereal, Toast, jam and tea or coffee 8 a.m. – 8.30 a.m. Opening ceremony at one of village schools 8.30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Tour the classrooms 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. Lesson Planning 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Teach the Students
12 p.m. – 1 p.m. Lunch 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Teach the Students 3 p.m. - 3.30 p.m. Closing Ceremony including receiving of volunteer certificate of appreciation from the school. 3.30 – 5.30 p.m. Kayaking on the river
6 p.m. Evening Meal
6 a.m. – 7 a.m. Gather sugar cane for the Elephants’ breakfast 7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Continental breakfast 8 a.m. – 8.30 a.m. Clean the shelter. 8.30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Help prepare and feed the elephants breakfast 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Walk to the river with the elephants and bathe them.
12. p.m. – 1 p.m. Picnic lunch at the river while enjoying the company of the elephants 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Walk the elephants back to the sanctuary 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Volunteer Certificate Presentation and Happy Hour 6 p.m. – Late: Bar B Q, Party with the Mahouts with entertainment and a live Auction
7 a.m. – 8 a.m. Continental breakfast: Cereal, Toast, jam and tea or coffee 8 a.m. Time to say “au revoir” to the elephants and we will transport you to the Surin Bus or train station.
Program Commencing Dates
N.B. For Camp Thailand Participants there is a special Program Commencement Date that occurs on the very next day after the last day your Camp Thailand Intake or Camp Thailand Island Hopping Tour.
17,000 THB per intake (5 nights & 6 days) Approx. 369 GBP or 475 USD
Shorter stays are available at a cost of 3,950 THB per day with an overnight stay included or 2,950 THB for a Single Day Visit without an overnight stay.