Spend 6 months in the lush mountainous region of Northern Thailand around Chiang Mai, and contribute to conserving the Asian elephant by living and working with traditional elephant-keeping communities.
The population of Asian elephants and their habitat is rapidly declining. With less than 1,000 left in the wild in Thailand and around 3,000 in captivity, this is one of very few viable alternatives to the unshakable reality of their domesticated future within tourist camps.
The focus of the internship is on ensuring that these captive elephants are successfully reintroduced into protected forest. Your contribution will help the conservation of this beautiful animal species, by providing the funding and hands-on support needed to keep this project going. The overall goal of the project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts.
This internship consists of 3 aspects – community (teaching), plant biodiversity (with an emphasis on elephant foraging) and elephants. Each of these projects are run independently, but are integrated and highly relevant to each other. The community project consists of teaching English within the community and to the elephant keepers (mahouts), as well as following a program that supports community efforts to reduce their financial dependence on their elephants.
The plant biodiversity project involves researching elephant foraging habits and working towards formulating a foraging guide based on the observations made on our elephants.
Other biodiversity projects may include surveying biodiversity in the forests around the village, heading up night hikes to look for gibbons, porcupines, and other nocturnal animals, and identifying unique birds and insects. The elephant project consists of leading elephant health checks, studying the behaviour of our herd, and educating other volunteers about Asian elephants.
While each project has many established aspects, interns are encouraged to develop their own ideas and introduce new aspects to these projects.
Although you will be able to enjoy hiking with the elephants 5 days of the week, the rotation of the internship means your responsibilities will shift during the course of your stay.
After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for affiliated partner organisations in Thailand or around the world. Field work positions can be paid or unpaid, range in duration from one month to one year, and availability varies.