Help at this unique elephant
sanctuary
in Cambodia

A 1,500-acre natural sanctuary in the Cambodian jungle

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  • Duration
    1-12 weeks
  • Accompanied age
    7+
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    Every Saturday
  • From
    £400
  • Duration
    1-12 weeks
  • Accompanied age
    7+
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    Every Saturday
  • From
    £400

Cambodia Elephant Sanctuary

Help elephants in their natural habitat at this unique elephant sanctuary located deep in the Cambodian jungle. Dedicated to helping rescued elephants, you’ll trek into the jungle every day to observe and care for the 10 Asian elephants that call this 1,500-acre forest home.

The 100% ethical and responsible sanctuary provides an alternative lifestyle for the rescued elephants as close to their natural living conditions as possible. You will get to experience elephants acting naturally, foraging and interacting together. The elephants can be seen bathing in the natural rivers and bulldozing trees to get to the best luscious leaves.

The project is based in the east of Cambodia in the Moldulkiri province, near the Vietnam border. See a side of Cambodia beyond most tourists’ itineraries, where you can learn about the local Bunong culture and explore the nearby waterfalls and tropical forests during your free time.

"I volunteered in Cambodia for several months and saw first-hand the immense positive impact the programme has on the rescued elephants and the local indigenous Bunong community. No matter how long you go for, you will have the best time ever where you will learn about the elephants and the local culture and contribute to a meaningful and sustainable project."

There are many domesticated elephants in Cambodia that are threatened by a broad array of factors. This can range from physical abuse and misuse from activities such as logging and providing rides to tourists. Unfortunately, these domesticated elephants cannot be released into the wild as they have little fear of people and will start to raid crops, endangering their lives and the people around.

Not only this, but the wild population of elephants in Cambodia is hugely threatened by loss of habitat. As with many areas of Cambodia and other developing countries, the region of Mondulkiri is being rapidly deforested.

As human populations grow, new houses and farms are being developed and are encroaching on what was once the elephants natural home or pathway. This has resulted in an increase of human-elephant conflict, as elephants wander into farms and small towns and damage buildings or eat / ruin crops. This often results in retaliation, with many elephants getting injured or killed by traps and other weapons.

The elephant sanctuary was founded in 2006 with the aim to improve the health and welfare of the captive elephants in Eastern Cambodia, work to conserve the wild elephant’s natural habitat and to support the local people who work with these magnificent creatures.

By volunteering, not only will you get an unforgettable jungle experience, but you’ll be helping the rescued elephants that are recuperating from their previous work lives of exploitation. This is done by taking a hands-off approach to the elephants and a hands-on approach to education and welfare improvement, working as much with the local community as with the elephants.

The sanctuary also works in the protected forest to assist in the conservation of the wild elephants in Cambodia. By protecting this vast area of forest from destruction, we can ensure the conservation of traditional habitat for the Bunong people, elephants and the huge variety of other creatures here.

Surveys have put the wild elephant population of Seima Forest in Modulkiri at over 120, making it one of the largest in Cambodia and therefore one of the most important to protect. The forest rangers that roam these forests, are tasked to protect it from illegal activities such as logging, hunting, trapping and land clearance. A proportion of the funds from volunteers contributes to their operation which would not be possible without the support from you and other volunteers.

You will work 5 days a week, from around 7:45am to 5pm Monday to Friday. The daily schedule will differ and generally volunteers spend half of each day with the elephants, observing them or assisting with their health checks and the other half of the day assisting with tasks required by the sanctuary and the local community.

Volunteer observations and health checks are vital in identifying any concerns regarding the elephants. You may also be involved in research tasks such as monitoring and recording the feeding habits and preferences of the elephants. This is important in guiding decisions as to which plant species should be grown for the elephants to feed on in the forest.

You will also support the upkeep of the sanctuary by working on jobs such as farming and construction. This can range from harvesting banana and pineapple trees for the elephants, supporting the nursery and reforestation project, farming and road / trail maintenance.

With the support of volunteers, the local team have the resources to work with the local Bunong community to discourage further domestication of wild elephants by demonstrating the value of elephants living freely in the forest.

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