Volunteer Abroad with animals

Elephant Conservation Sri Lanka

Elephant Conservation Volunteering
in Sri Lanka

Quick Overview

This project offers volunteers a rare opportunity to work alongside local conservationists, educators, community partners and local villagers deep within the heart of beautiful Sri Lanka. This is a true conservation project where wild elephants are not touched at all as they are all in their natural habitat and it is a genuine research based project involving elephant tracking, monitoring, observations, and education to the local communities, running campaigns and awareness programs.

Wasgamuwa is one of protected areas where Sri Lankan Elephants can be seen in large herds. It is also one of the Important Bird Areas in Sri Lanka. The name of the Wasgamuwa has derived through the words “Walas Gamuwa”. “Walasa” is Sinhala for sloth bear and “Gamuwa” means a wood. There is a possibility that wild animals might catch diseases by coming into contact with domestic cattle, which are released to park’s grasslands by the villagers. Wild animals particularly elephants have to compete with these cattle as they have occupied the grazing lands and water pools. These cattle also damage the park’s electric fence. Illegal logging is a major threat and preventing it has been a difficult issue. Elephants damage the properties of the villagers and fatal attacks on them have reported from the park. Environmentalists have raised concern over proposed resettlement of displaced people from the construction of Moragahakanda reservoir. It is suggested that this resulted in escalating the elephant-human clash.  There is an urgent need for strategic action designed to mitigate human-elephant conflicts to save the endangered wild elephants of Sri Lanka and enhance the welfare of captive elephants.

What’s Involved

Volunteering on this elephant conservation program is truly exciting and an experience of a lifetime. You will get the chance to take part in animal identification and tracking through game drives as well as many other amazing activities. Your duties will include gathering information on elephants and other wildlife and tropical ecosystems; Collecting essential environmental and soci-economic data to help develop community-based conservation programs; Participation in discussions with local villagers to help identify practical solutions to human- elephant conflicts. You will observe, assess and document human-elephant conflicts and teach environmental education to local school children. Depending on needs you will also be building and mending fencing to protect agricultural crops and homes from damage by wild elephants.

Imagine an experience that gives you a complete behind the scenes look at what needs to be done in order to protect this grand animal. Not only will you learn an incredible amount about wildlife conservation in one of Sri Lanka’s most popular national parks, but you will get hands on work experience with real conservationists. Besides elephants there is also carnivore tracking such as leopard monitoring. Everyday you will be working for a minimum of 5 hours. In the evenings most volunteers relax in the volunteer house. There is always someone in the house so you are never alone! On the weekends you can stay in the volunteer house or explore Sri Lanka. Anyone who joins for more than 2 weeks also gets a free entry to visit the National Park.

Previous experience in conservation is not required for this program. However we do expect you to be enthusiastic about animals and conservation in general. There is a minimum age requirement of 18 years for this program.

All The Details

Wasgamuwa, Sri Lanka

This program has a Sunday start date which means you need to arrive to Sri Lanka by Sunday as we will be picking you up on Monday morning at 6 AM from your hotel and transferring you to Wasgamuwa. Please note that your accommodation, meals and airport pick up on Sunday is not included and you will need to arrange this. If you have any trouble you can contact our team and we would be glad to sort this out for you for an additional fee.

The below are Sunday start dates – the day you need to be in Colombo by. If you have any confusions about this please email us hello@volunteeringjourneys.com

2019 2020
3rd November 5th January 5th April 26th July 25th October
10th November 12th January 12th April 2nd August 1st November
17th November 19th January 19th April 9th August 8th November
24th November 26th January 26th April 16th August 15th November
1st December 2nd February 3rd May 23rd August 22nd November
8th December 9th February 10th May 30th August 29th November
15th December 16th February 17th May 6th September 6th December
22nd December 23rd February 24th May 13th September 13th December
29th December 1st March 31st May 20th September 20th December
8th March 7th June 27th September 27th December
15th March 5th July 4th October
22nd March 12th July 11th October
29th March 19th July 18th October

All our rates are in USD $

NUMBER OF WEEKS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Cost USD $ $999.00 $1,199.00 $1,449.00 $1,699.00 $1,949.00 $2,199.00 $2,449.00 $2,699.00 $2,949.00 $3,199.00 $3,449.00 $3,699.00

Price Includes

  1. Pre-departure support and materials – to prepare you for your trip
  2. Shared room- Volunteer accommodation in Wasgamuwa field house
  3. Experienced bilingual local staff guidance
  4. All meals in Wasgamuwa field house
  5. Transfers from Colombo to Wasgamuwa by public transport
  6. Orientation and Training on arrival
  7. 24 hour support in your location
  8. Working with experts in field and contributing to organised conservation efforts
  9. Transportation in field in Wasgamuwa

Whats Not Included in your program fee :

  1. Flights
  2. Travel Insurance (This is mandatory for this program)
  3. Airport transfers
  4. Accommodation in Colombo
  5. Visas (Please check with the Sri Lankan Visas service if you are eligible for free entry to Sri Lanka)
  6. All items of a personal nature, such as curios, gifts, clothing (work and other)
  7. Any activities and excursions outside of your planned project itinerary
  1. The nearest airport for this program is Colombo Airport (CMB). We will transfer you by train and then bus.
  2. Visas can be applied online via Sri Lankan ETA Visa site.
  3. Insurance is compulsory on this program.
  4. For support on any of the above email us hello@volunteeringjourneys.com

General Schedule:

You will be picked up by a member of the team on Monday and transported to Polonnaruwa near the Wasgamuwa National Park. It will take approximately 5-6 hours with a combination of train and bus travel to reach the remote field site. 

On arrival the conservation team will be giving training and orientation related to your project work. Depending on the time of arrival you will be going out into field for elephant observation. Daily work hours will depend on activities organised by the conservation team but expect early mornings and early evening projects (with breakfast & lunch served in between and dinner served at night).

  • Breakfast at 08:00AM
  • Leave Volunteer house for duties  09:30AM to 12:00PM
  • Lunch around 13:00 to 14:00PM
  • Depart for evening session 15:00PM to 18:00PM
  • Dinner 19:00 to 20:00PM

What Happens When I Arrive?


Living Arrangements for Wildlife Experience

On our wildlife conservation program in Sri Lanka you will be able to relax in the comfort of your volunteer house outside the reserve after a day of volunteering work. Because we promote community living for a happy, healthy social life, we will house you with other volunteers on the same program so you will always have someone to talk to about what you’ve learnt. Meals are provided daily so you can get an authentic taste of the local cuisine and fully immerse yourself into a new culture. All transport and transfers will be pre-arranged on your behalf.  Your house will have a common area and kitchen for your use. 


Health and Safety :

When you join our programs you can be assured we have carried out Risk Assessments to identify potential safety and health risks on projects and in the community. We share this information with you in our pre departure documents. Our local staff are well trained and we provide 24/7 emergency numbers to all participants. Please read our Health and Safety pages for more details.


Volunteers Love Us!

  • ‘My experience in India was absolutely fantastic. Having never done anything like this before, Volunteering Journeys made sure I settled in well and supported me throughout my time. Being placed with an amazing family gave me the chance to experience Indian culture first hand.  I was part of the Disabled Childcare Programs for two weeks.  Although short, I felt the time I spent was so valuable for the children. If this is something that you are interested in I would 100% recommend it. The memories, friendships and experiences you will develop will be ones that you will never forget.’

    Fiona Kirk
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  • ‘The teaching experience was second to none. I was overwhelmed by the respect and politeness all the children have, which made it some much easier to work with them, even with the language barrier. The amazing thing about the schools I visited was that all the children are like little sponges, they absorb everything you say, teach and do! It’s quite outstanding how much they gain from just a small conversation in the playground or in the class room.
    So in general if you are questioning whether you want to volunteer and you don’t know what company to go with, it has the be Volunteering Journeys. You will be well looked after, gain an immense experience and make friends for life!!!’

    Jemima Kershberg
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  • ‘I took a short sabbatical from work in November 2013 and decided to come to India. I was helping at a small school in Fort Kochi, teaching English, Maths, Science and the odd nursery rhyme. The school where I volunteered had amazing teachers and the kids were great. Ridhi and the team organised everything brilliantly – from cycling tours to the backwaters, to hosting me with a family that made my stay feel like home. If you’re going to volunteer in India then I highly recommend Volunteering Journeys’

    Glyn Owen
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  • “J’ai passé deux mois formidables à Kochi en travaillant comme volontaire avec Volunteering Journeys. Deux mois de ma vie que je n’oublierais jamais. J’ai rencontré des gens incroyables et participé à des projets qui me tenaient vraiment à coeur. J’ai pu voir l’aboutissement de mes efforts et le sourire sur le visage des enfants. Une expérience magique que je recommande à tous. Merci Rainbow”

    Laura Prigogine
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  • ‘I spent 3 wonderful weeks with the Volunteering Journeys team in Kerala, it marked the beginning of almost 2 months adventuring through India, and I can say without a doubt it was one of my favourite experiences of my time spent in incredible India! From the moment my plane landed and I was greeted by a friendly face and whisked away to a wonderful home, the local staff were incredibly welcoming, helpful, supportive and great fun to be around!
    I spent my time volunteering in 2 local schools, assisting with English studies. The enthusiasm and joy with which the children approach their days will ensure you never want to leave!I cannot recommend Volunteering Journeys highly enough, it was such a joyful introduction to India – it’s culture, people and crazy beautiful way of life. You will leave with some fond memories and firm friendships’


    Katie Parsons
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  • ‘I volunteered by teaching English both at a school and at an all girls’ orphanage for two months. It has been the best experience of my life so far. I really got to know the children I was teaching and seeing the children’s English improve over my time was an incredible feeling. From being introduced to yoga to tasting delicious flavoursome Indian cuisine and living in “God’s own country”, has left me eager to return. I have made friends across the World who made my time spent in Kerala unforgettable. I highly recommend volunteering with Volunteering Journeys; Kerala is beautiful and you will gain fun memories.’

    Elidith Cameron
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  • ‘I spent two weeks running an art workshop which was absolutely fantastic. The children were so enthusiastic and bustled about with paste and paint, putting together the most amazing creations. They were not used to producing collaborative work and were thrilled when their individual efforts achieved a glorious whole. Their personalities really shone through and I became very fond of them in the short time I was with them. Thank you to Volunteering Journeys for enabling me to have such a wonderful experience!’

    Jane Daniell
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  • ‘There is some kind of magic that happens when you’re in India. The climate, the people, the warm welcome, the happiness in every person, the culture, it’s simply inspiring. On top of that having a group of friendly, thoughtful organizers guiding me through the program made my time volunteering with Volunteering Journeys one of the most memorable moments in my life.
    If anyone reading this is considering becoming a volunteer, don’t hesitate, become a volunteer. It will be the most rewarding experience and adventure of your life. I assure you that you will have a vital impact on the community, the place and the children. I would recommend Volunteering Journeys without hesitation. Well organized and hassle free adventure. You get help and guidance with everything you need. Kerala was my destination. Safe, beautiful and very friendly. Just do it and have an adventure of your life!’

    Harminder Athwal
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  • “Volunteering at the schools was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Once again the friendships you create are irreplaceable. Admittedly, the first few days were scary, in the sense that my partner and I were only 18 & 20 yrs old and we were teaching women and children a language that was not their first. However the persistence and willingness of Indians is not to be tested. Each of our students put in 100% and naturally we became very personal with everyone and these women and children taught us much more. We came out of this experience with more than we had ever anticipated. It can’t be put into words just how much we learnt from volunteering. Ever aspect of our lives and mindset has changed.”

    Aimee Chirio
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  • ‘I think it was quite an eye opening experience to kind of see how people live and enjoy their lives very differently to what we do probably in UK. Even though comparatively they didn’t have as much, the children still came to school with a smile on their face and they were really keen to learn. They were ever so happy and always had a smile on their face regardless of the circumstances that they are living in, and I think that was an amazing experience for us to take back. We have comparatively much more wealth in the UK and we have much more available at our fingertips. Yet we were quite not so happy’

    Andrew Davies
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  • ‘We decided to volunteer as part of our family vacation. It was the perfect balance: making a contribution but not being asked to do too much, with Volunteering Journeys staff with us every step of the way to help, support, clarify, etc. I was also impressed that they didn’t feed us a line about how we were changing the world in a week; I knew going in that *we* would be the ones most changed, and the staff’s perspective’s was the same: we were making an impact by showing we cared and sharing experiences, which hopefully meant something to a lot of people.’

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    Bob Macauley & Family
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