In the last 3 generations, elephant populations in Asia have decreased by at least 50%. Humans are slowly inhabiting more and more of elephants’ natural habitat and many elephants are killed by stepping on landmines, are worked to death in the logging and entertainment (circuses and riding) industries, and are killed by poachers. Today there are less than 50,000 Asian elephants in the world.
It’s not just elephants that are facing significant challenges in Thailand. In remote hill tribe communities in Thailand’s north, up to 33% of the population are living below the poverty line, compared to a national average of 7%. Schools in the region are underfunded, lacking teachers as well as basic resources, which prevents children from receiving an education that could help them break out of the poverty cycle.
You will volunteer at Elephant Nature Park, an ethical elephant sanctuary that sets the bar in the region for elephant treatment and runs a global campaign to stop animal cruelty and the torture of elephants through work in the logging or entertainment industries. The sanctuary has over 80 rescued elephants as well as hundreds of rescued dogs and cats. Here, your activities will include:
Cleaning up after the elephants at the park
Cleaning water troughs
Feeding the elephants (banana and watermelon are their favourite)
Cleaning and sorting elephant food
Spending time with the dogs and cats to familiarise them with humans
Walking the disabled dogs
You will also spend half of your program in a remote hill tribe village. Here, you will be working on projects that improve education quality. You activities could include:
Conversational English sessions to improve children’s competency and confidence speaking English
Creative arts, life skills and environmental sustainability workshops that allow children to learn additional skills in an exciting hands-on setting, develop their critical thinking skills and become more engaged in their education
Infrastructure projects to improve school facilities and create a safer and more conducive learning environment for children
Environmental sustainability activities such as community clean ups and tree planting.
When you arrive in Thailand you’ll be met by our team at the airport and will head straight to the hill tribe village where you will spend the week. Over the first few days you’ll have a thorough induction and orientation where you’ll learn about Thai customs and culture, get your bearings around the village, meet community partners and gain a better understanding of the context of the projects you’re working on.
In the village you’ll work Monday – Friday and you day will usually be structured with a morning session (approx. 3 hours) after breakfast and then a session of the same length after lunch. Your afternoons and evenings will be free for you to relax or do any required planning for the next day.
For your second week you will head back to Chiang Mai and on to Elephant Nature Park. Your accommodation will be at the park and you will spend most of your day working with the elephants and other animals or learning about the park’s mission to end animal cruelty around the world.
On the last day, you’ll either be transported back to the airport or you can join our extension trip tour of Northern Thailand!
*Please note some programs might have an inverse structure where you spend your first week at the elephant park and second week in the hill tribes.
After your volunteering you can join our optional extension trip for $800, where you’ll spend a week touring all the sites in Northern Thailand you shouldn’t miss before you head home! You will begin by heading to Chiang Rai to visit the famous White Temple and the Monkey Temple before a Mekong river cruise to the Golden Triangle - the point where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet.
After the markets and nightlife of Chiang Rai you'll head to Chiang Dao for some hiking, bamboo rafting and exploring waterfalls before heading to Pai for some relaxation. This whirlwind tour will see you discovering the best hidden gems of Northern Thailand for a perfect end to your trip!
The journey that I took with Challenges Abroad and the FutureSense Foundation has had a major impact on me and the way I view my life. It has taught me so many things and I definitely recommend to anyone who wants to leave their mark on the world!Elaina Bohman, Western Sydney University
Today was incredible. We walked the whole park and visited most of the elephants we will be working with over the next 6 days. There are 80 elephants here, some blind, some injured from land mines, traps and logging and others just traumatised at the hands of man, but amongst all this park is home to health, strong, baby elephants. So blessed to be here and to be part of this amazing teamNathanael Simpson - Griffith University
This experience was the first time I had decided to do such hands-on volunteer work and it was beyond expectation. The trip was the perfect blend of a holiday from studies and an opportunity to learn and give back to the world as humans who have the capacity to provide assistance to those in need. It was an incredibly eye-opening experience!Jessica Summerhill - Griffith University
My experience in Thailand was challenging, fun, rewarding and eye opening. Experiencing the culture at the Hill Tribe was incredible and I felt very welcomed by everyone there. Volunteering at ENP was such a fun and eye-opening experience as I learnt heaps of things, not just about elephants, but wildlife conservation and animal protection as well which was super interesting! The extension trip allowed me to experience different parts of Thai culture in fun and interesting ways. I had such an incredible time and definitely recommend this program to anyone looking for a challenge or who has a passion to learn and help others.Sophie Bray - University of Technology Sydney
*Note: if you have other dates in mind or would like to travel as an individual, email us at [email protected] and we’ll be more than happy to help!