Read all about the amazing work I assisted with whilst volunteering in Thailand with elephants
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.
I chose this programme because I’ve always been passionate about animal conservation. I had worked with elephants before and loved it, so knew I wouldn’t be disappointed doing it again. After looking into the programme I was soon happy to go ahead and book my place as it became apparent that this programme was solely for the care of mistreated animals and not one of the typical tourist hotspots.
"The work carried out at the sanctuary to rescue and rehabilitate animals is commendable. My overall experience was absolutely fantastic, I’d go back in a heartbeat."
Along with working with elephants there is also an option to work with other wildlife at the sanctuary, which I helped out with for a few days. I worked with monkeys, bears, pigs, iguanas, turtles and many more. My main duties included food preparation, feed outs, enclosure cleaning, enrichment making, etc.
The working days starts at 6:30am, this is when we met up with our team
for the day. Each team had a team leader which is one of the volunteers who have trained for a few days to be a leader. I was a team leader on my second day at the sanctuary.
Working between 6:30 and 17:00, our days involved making banana balls, chopping fruit, feeding, creating enrichments, composting the enclosures (bring gloves,) walking & showering the elephants. We usually had two “special projects” per day which involved different projects such as general maintenance jobs, more composting, scrubbing pools or cleaning around the main common areas. There is also harvest every second day which entails working in the fields, collecting banana trees. It’s hard work but great fun.
There are breaks throughout the day, breakfast is 8:00-9:00, lunch is 12:00-13:00 and dinner is served at 18:00. We got 1 day off per week. On your day off you can choose to do whatever you like. In the volunteer house there is a list of day or evening trips you can join in on, or visit the closest cities which are Cha-am and Hua Hin.
The sanctuary has a group of English speaking coordinators, who organise each team and choose which elephant(s) you’re working with for the day. They helped out with special projects and made sure everything was running smoothly throughout the day.
There was around 60-70 volunteers there each week, from all around the world. I loved meeting new people and making new friends.
The accommodation is basic but clean and comfortable. I shared a twin room. Some rooms sleep up to 6. The bathrooms are communal with cold showers - which is lovely in the heat.
Volunteering at the sanctuary isn’t easy work but I can assure you it‘s good for the soul and extremely rewarding.
My overall experience was absolutely fantastic. I’d go back in a heartbeat and I plan on returning sometime in the near future. The work at the sanctuary to rescue, rehabilitate and release wild animals is commendable.