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Get hands on experience
with Asian
elephants

A safe refuge sanctuary for over 20 elephants

Apply now
  • Duration
    1-12 Weeks
  • Accompanied age
    14+
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    Every Sunday
  • From
    £360
  • Duration
    1-12 Weeks
  • Accompanied age
    14+
  • Minimum age
    18+
  • Start dates
    Every Sunday
  • From
    £360

Thailand elephant refuge centre

Work behind the scenes to help care for rescued elephants in Thailand. This unique programme is your chance to get hands on working experience with the majestic Asian elephants with it providing rehabilitation and care to over 20 gentle giants.

Working alongside the local staff, you will play a vital role to support the elephants; many of whom arrive with severe health problems and bear scars of previous abuse. You will spend your days volunteering alongside the elephants, where you and other passionate volunteers will assist with feeding and washing the elephants, walking the elephants to and from the correct enclosures and forests and so much more!

The centre is located in a tropical region of Thailand, about 160km south of Bangkok. Situated within temple grounds just outside of a small village, this beautiful and peaceful environment is perfect for the animals to retire to and for you to enjoy your surroundings. 

Background to the elephant programme

Just over a century ago, Thailand was home to over 100,000 wild elephants who would roam the vast grasslands and dense rainforests. However, in more recent years and like many other countries around the world, animals have been widely abused and exploited for profit and human gratification. 

Sadly, many of the elephants have been stolen from their natural habitat and then trained / broken to live and work in the tourist or logging industry. Along with this devastating domestication of elephants, habitat destruction and several other factors have left Thailand's wild elephant population struggling for survival. It is now believed that there are only around 2,000 elephants freely roaming Thailand, with this number dropping rapidly!

Historically, domestic elephants have been used mainly within the logging industry, ironically and unwillingly helping to destroy the very habitat they need to survive. After the ban on logging in 1989, most of the elephants then ended up being used within the growing tourism industry. This can involve providing elephant rides all day that puts a huge strain on their back or alternately being chained without being able to move a single step to sell photo opportunities.

Other elephants have also been used to make a living by begging on the streets of big cities, where they walk day and night on dirty and traffic-congested streets. This is not only detrimental to their health and very stressful, but often many end up being involved in road traffic accidents.

Unfortunately, in Thailand there are currently no laws to prevent this abuse and mistreatment, with many of the elephants needing urgent help. The elephant refuge centre has been created to protect and care for the elephants, who are able to live out the rest of their lives happy and with the respect they deserve - this is where you and our other volunteers come in! You will help support the centre, assisting and leading tasks to help rehabilitate and care for the many elephants that call the sanctuary home.

Where will I be volunteering?

You will be volunteering in a 100% ethical elephant refuge centre, located around 160km south of Bangkok. Founded in 2001, the centre intends to rescue as many neglected elephants as possible, with the aim to rehabilitate and care for them. The rescue centre provides the elephants with a safe and peaceful environment where they are free to roam as they please - no elephant is ever chained, day or night! The team provides lifelong veterinary care to those who need it, as well as the best husbandry and diet.

Currently home to over 20 rescued elephants, the local team have purchased hundreds of acres of forested land to give the elephants the chance to roam around in near-natural surroundings. The elephant enclosures can be up to 5 hectares in size, with many natural trees, large lakes and vast open grazing areas, allowing the elephants plenty of space to roam freely and to socialise with the other elephants - just like in the wild!

The elephant refuge centre is located within a bigger wildlife rescue centre (that you can also volunteer on) that provides protection and care to many different species of animals - including gibbons, macaques, civets, lorises, fishing cats, hornbills and bears. The local team are always purchasing additional plots of land around the centre to provide even more space for all of the animals and to ensure they have the capacity to rescue and help rehabilitate more wildlife. 

The programme also aims to protect the last few remaining wild animals in Thailand from habitat destruction. They hope to achieve this through education and raising awareness, not only with the locals but also with the masses of tourists that travel to Thailand each and every year. 

The centre is always actively developing programmes to rescue, rehabilitate and release captive animals with the hope of restoring Thailand’s wild animal populations and habitats back to the thriving ecosystems they once were - and they need your help!

What is my role?

Due to the scale of the work and daily care that is needed within the sanctuary, staff are often overstretched and resources limited – this is where you come in! Working alongside the local staff, you will play a vital role to support and assist with caring for the elephants; many of whom arrive with severe health problems and bear scars of previous abuse. The extra support from volunteers is crucial to ensure that every animal receives the optimum level of care and also allows the local team to focus on other important tasks such as animal rights campaigning and education.

Your volunteer duties will include preparing and feeding the elephants, washing the elephants, walking the elephants to and from the correct enclosures and forests, creating and distributing enrichments, maintaining and cleaning enclosures, pools and mud baths as well as harvesting plant matter (such as banana trees and grasses). You will be taught everything you need to know about caring for these gentle giants, where you can be sure your time and effort is making a vital contribution to their lives.

As the centre is a non-profit organisation, they are dependent on not only your help but the monies paid from your programme fee. The money you pay to volunteer goes directly to the running costs of the sanctuary and to ensure it is possible to continue providing the care the elephants need.

What will a typical day look like?

While volunteering in Thailand, your working day will start at 6:30am at the volunteer house and normally finish around 5pm. There will of course be several breaks throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and water/toilet breaks. You are expected to work a 5/6 day week and some tasks can be quite physically demanding. Every morning you will be assigned to a work group by one of the local coordinators and your schedule for the day will be explained.

Where will I be staying?

You will be living within the grounds of the sanctuary where all of the animals are just a short walk away. You will fall asleep to the birds tweeting and the elephants trumpeting! Situated within temple grounds just outside of a small village (10 minute walk), this beautiful and peaceful environment is perfect for not only the animals to retire to, but also for you to relax and enjoy your surroundings.

The nearby village has all of the basic amenities including several supermarkets, an internet cafe and some restaurants. Many volunteers choose to visit the spa resort just down the road, where you can make use of the luxurious spa and swimming pool and also eat in the hotel’s restaurant - all with amazing views of the river. A bit further away, you will find two popular beach resorts (Hua Hin and Cha-Am) as well as Kaeng Krachan National Park where you can head off on safari.

Other things to consider

Ethical sanctuary - The Mighty Roar was established to create and help promote only 100% ethical wildlife programmes. We regularly visit each and every programme we offer to ensure all of our expected high standards are continuously being met and that the programme's aims match our ethos. The elephant programme in Thailand goes above and beyond our expected standards and you can volunteer with the peace and reassurance you are actually helping elephants, rather than harming them. Across Thailand there are many so called sanctuaries that allow tourists/volunteers to ride elephants and to take part in other unethical practices. We recommend that everyone carry out their own research into these bad practices and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

Helping on multiple projects - During your time in Thailand you may also have the opportunity to help at the wildlife rescue centre, which is located within the same grounds - depending on availability and planned activities. If you would like to split your time across each programme, then we can of course arrange this beforehand to guarantee you a place at both. Please simply state you wish to help on both programmes under the 'special requirements' box when applying and state your desired durations on both (needs to be in whole weeks).

Additional tasks - All volunteers will be asked to assist in additional tasks outside of the project hours. This will be to help run the volunteer house and may include activities such as ensuring all areas of the accommodation are kept tidy and caring for the dogs that live at the house. The local team will assign two people to each task on a regular basis.

Volunteering in Thailand & Cambodia

Volunteered in Thailand and Cambodia during the same trip, and it was life-changing! Had the best time ever working with elephants and then with the children in the school. Everyone was very accommodating and I made friends for life!

Aaron WoodMay 2020

Elephant Refuge Centre

I volunteered in Thailand at the Elephant Refuge Centre. I started my volunteer journey at the beginning of February 2020 and was there for 2 weeks - although I wish I could have stayed a lot longer. Volunteering at the sanctuary isn’t easy work but I can assure you it‘s good for the soul... Read More

Gemma RitchieApril 2020

Volunteering in Thailand

Volunteered at the elephant refuge centre in Thailand. The experience was great. We enjoyed working with the elephants and helping out on projects. The accommodation was basic but clean although there were not any hot showers for the whole week. The WiFi in the general areas was good. they put... Read More

Frederick PidgeonJanuary 2020

My First Travelling Experience

As my first travelling experience the mighty roar made it easy and were always there if I needed anything, i would recommend travelling with them.

Leah FletcherNovember 2019

Reliable and helpful

I booked with the mighty roar a trip to Thailand to volunteer with the elephants and there was great communication throughout and they were very helpful too. Just booked another trip to Bali with marine conservation and there is always a customer service team available to answer any questions ... Read More

Emily BoultonJuly 2019

Very good and helpful staff

Very good and helpful staff, amazing experience, would recommend doing for more than 1 week as you don’t have enough time to really take everything in. You’ll meet such a range of people from every walk of life.

Alfie JamesJune 2019

Brilliant organisation

I volunteered on the Elephant Refuge programme in Thailand for 2 weeks in April. After a lot of research, I choose this programme because it seemed to be more focused on elephant welfare than one of the standard tourist hotspots you see everywhere in Thailand. After going through The Migh... Read More

Kirstin BucklandMay 2019

Assisting in an elephant sanctuary in Thailand

Hear all about my 2 weeks looking after elephants and other animals in Thailand. The work the sanctuary does to ensure elephants are rescued and rehabiltaed is so commendable and highly rew

Gemma's story

Volunteering with elephants in Thailand

After checking The Mighty Roar's feedback and reading about the project, I decided to volunteer in Thailand with elephants. I would highly recommend it to everyone!

Kirstin's story