Elephant Animal Shelter Project in Thailand

Get involved in the protection of elephants

Help support endangered elephants in Thailand by assisting at the local elephant rescue centre! Your hard work will go to ensuring the elephants recover, can move around, and find food successfully so that one day they can manage in the wild without assistance.

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The Project

The Issue

Of the 50,000 elephants once living in Thailand, there are only around 2,000 left today. Both free-living and domesticated elephants are threatened with extinction, which makes it hard to believe that only sixty years ago more than 50,000 roamed free in the wild. Wild elephants are hunted for their ivory and their habitats are cleared and converted into plantations. Domesticated elephants are mainly used as tourist attractions, and the lack of adequate care and appropriate living conditions has caused them to become just as threatened as those in the wild.

Unfortunately, there is no law for the protection of these animals, which is why they urgently need the help and support of our volunteers!

The Sanctuary

The sanctuary for endangered elephants is in the southern part of central Thailand. The sanctuary is set across 7 acres of safe habitat, for them to roam freely and recover from their ordeals. The facility is actually the first chain-free elephant protection organisation in asia! The elephants living here were rescued by the sanctuary after being captured or raised as livestock, mostly for use in the tourism or construction industry. Many of them are elderly, blind, or suffering from ill health. The oldest elephant onsite is 75 years old!

Your Tasks

As a volunteer, you’ll learn all there is to know about taking care of these magnificent animals. Every day you will go on an ‘elephant walk’ through the area so that they can get the exercise they need. Then it is bath time! Brushing and spraying off the animals is very important - they are only touched when necessary and the sanctuary try to keep human interaction to a minimum. Next, it is time for food preparation! This may sound relatively routine but actually it is quite a sophisticated task! The sanctuary try to keep meal times as close to their natural habitat as possible, so you’ll be hiding food inside bamboo tubes or in nets hung high up in the tree. Elephants eat a lot of banana trees, so you will spend time harvesting the fruit with other volunteers. When mealtime is over, you will clean the shelters out and help to keep the facility well maintained, as well as keeping your own accommodation clean and tidy.

The Hours

Your working hours will be discussed with you upon arrival, but even on working days you will have time to run errands or take a break. On the weekends, many volunteers like to take trips to the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samui - it is like a tropical dream and not one to miss! Our team will be on hand to help you organise bigger trips, such as visits to Bangkok or further up the coast!

Volunteer Placement
Meals Included
Airport Pickup Available
Full Country Orientation
Assistance with Travel Preparation

From 18 years.


Good physical fitness, positive and practical attitude towards nature and the protection of wild animals.


English of a good level and Thai.


Central Thailand, inland between Bangkok and Chumphon.


From 4 weeks to 6 months.


Bungalow at the site. Please see our 'What you get' section for more information.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Airport Transfer

Available on request (we're happy to give you a quote and arrange transfers from Bangkok).

What You Get

You can fly into one of the two international airports in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. For the Wildlife Conservation Project or Elephant Animal Shelter Project you can be picked up by a member of the team in Bangkok (for an additional fee). The taxi ride then takes about three hours. You can also travel there independently if you wish. You will receive a detailed handout in which you will find helpful details on how to get there by bus. As soon as you arrive at the centre, you will be welcomed by the local team. The team will show you your accommodation as well as introduce you to the house rules, your work, local health facilities and safety rules. You will receive a comprehensive tour of the area, an introduction to the tasks involved, and get to know your co-workers on site. You will receive background information about the site and find out how to get involved in animal welfare in Asia. At the project in Thailand, you will find yourself in a beautiful and varied landscape. To the east is the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, and to the west are the Tenasserim Mountains. In the middle of the hills covered with forests and shrubs by a small lake is the area at which you will be working. Chameleons, elephants, monkeys, cats and tigers make up just some of the wildlife you'll find at the project. In just 10 minutes you can walk to the nearby village where there are restaurants, two small supermarkets, and ATMs. The next town in 30 minutes by car. There you can stroll through the night market and buy something for your family and friends. If you are adventurous, you can even swim in the nearby river. For the participants who prefer a quieter place, there is the possibility to relax in a spa with pool near the job site. There is something for everyone, from temples to snorkelling, you'll find loads of things to keep you active.

A note about Housing & Accommodation...

You'll live in a bungalow with one or two other participants. At the main house, there is a large terrace with a table where you can eat and spend time with the other volunteers. It's also a great place to rest up, or even catch a bit of sun! In the main house there is also a kitchen, where your lunch and dinner are cooked. For your breakfast, there are various foods available. Once a week, the cleaning staff will come to change your bedding and clean the bungalow. There are plenty of power outlets in the bedrooms and you can use the Wi-Fi in the elephant kitchen. To make it easier for you to explore the dream beaches, it is possible to buy or rent a scooter near the location and get to know the area.

What's Included
  • 2 Week Placement Programme
  • Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
  • Accommodation
  • Volunteer Placement
  • RGV Orientation
  • Personal Contact Person in RGV
  • 24Hr Emergency Number
  • Assistance with Travel Preparation
  • RGV Family T Shirt
  • Participation Certificate
  • Extensive RGV Travel Documentation
Additional fees
  • Flights (request a quote to include flights)
  • Visas & Vaccinations
  • Public Transport/Extra Transfers
  • Beverages
  • Tours/Accommodation Outside of Stay
  • Travel Insurance
  • Private Expenses
  • Airport Pickup/Transfer  


Total Cost: £1099 (2 Weeks)

Additional Weeks: £245 per week (up to 24 weeks)

Initial payment consists of a £200 deposit, with the remaining balance due 8 weeks before departure. There is also an option to pay the full amount up front at time of booking.

Additional weeks can be added and paid for on the 'profile' section, which is created upon initial booking.

Types of skills
  • Energetic
  • Driven
  • Animal Lover
  • Good Initiative
  • Eco-Aware
  • Patient 
Types of Tasks
  • Monitoring/Reporting
  • Food Prep/Delivery
  • Maintenance
  • Recruitment
  • Assisting Team

Trust us - The Team

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Fifa is the office coordinator and your first point of contact. She is from Iceland and speaks fluent Icelandic and English. Katie is from Spain and speaks Spanish and English, she is Assistant Elephant Coordinator. As a former volunteer, Katie supports the participants in their tasks and plans projects. David is from England and is also an Elephant Coordinator. He manages the Elephant Refuge. His tasks are to support and guide you as well as communicate and plan with the mahouts (Thai elephant keepers). David also leads volunteers in veterinary medicine. 

Finally, Pinpuk is fluent in English and Thai. She is from Thailand. She likes to take care of you and will answer any of your questions.

Our Rainbow Family in Thailand welcomes you!


Don't Just Take Our Word For It...

Our programmes have been running for many years now, and we've had countless numbers of happy and inspired applicants join us in making an impact. The best way of understanding our projects are through the words of our previous volunteers, so check out a few of their experiences below!

"My Volunteer Work with Elephants in Thailand"

Melanie P.
Melanie helped at the elephant sanctuary in Thailand and this report will help show you some of what she done and how her experience was whilst there.

"My time in the Elephant and Wildlife Project in Thailand"

Robert E.
Robert spent time across both the elephant and wildlife programmes in the project in Thailand, and his entry here will show you how he felt it was.


When should I register?

Ideally, you'll need to register at least 4-6 months before your desired departure date. Of course, short-term registrations of 1-2 months before departure are possible - but it may then be that your dream project is already full. In this case, we will try together to find a suitable alternative for you.


Lead time is especially important for the countries in which a visa has to be applied for in advance.

For medical projects as well as for internships, short term registrations are not possible.

What happens after I sign up?

Our UK team will send your registration through to the Germany headquarters as soon as possible, who will then confirm your booking as soon as possible, after liaising with the relevant in-country team. They will contact you to ensure you’re fully prepared for your stay abroad. Our headquarters in Germany has 20 years experience in organising successful stays in Africa and Asia and are more than happy to answer your questions.

What documents do I need to participate?

You'll need a few documents (which are listed below), but only once you've signed up. Our team will happily talk you through what is needed and when it is needed.

CV with photo, letter of motivation, copy of your passport (identity card is not enough), copy of your extended police certificate (no older than 3 months), simple proof of an existing health insurance abroad (name of insurance and insurance number are required), your signed code of conduct.

Is there an age limit?

You must be above 18 to make a booking through us, but there is no upper age limit set by RGV (however, you must check that you fit the required visa criteria for the country you wish to go to).

Who is my contact person at RGV?

Pre-booking, you have a customer service team in the UK. Once you have booked, you will have a dedicated contact within our RGV Head Office team in Munich.

Before you leave, you are in direct contact with one of our coordinators. You can find out about the program coordinators through our ‘The RGV Team’ page, and there is also a dedicated local team in each country.

Can I plan my volunteer work in a flexible way?

Our organisation works in the countries exclusively with our own RGV teams. That means maximum flexibility and planning freedom for you. You can choose a travel date to suit you, because we are not dependent on collection dates.

If you want to fly together with a further participant, you can inform us about this upon booking.

What is the minimum/maximum stay?

The minimum duration of volunteer work in Africa or Asia is 4 weeks for most projects (with a select few being 2 weeks) and can be extended weekly. This gives you the freedom to adjust your length of stay to what suits you.

Maximum duration of volunteer work is based on visa restrictions (Ghana: 12 months, South Africa: 6 months - up to 12 months through an extensive visa procedure, Thailand: 12 months).

Do I need a visa?

For all our destination countries, a visa is required. However, we distinguish between visas that must be issued before departure and visas that are issued automatically upon entry. Our Head Office team in Munich can guide you through every step of the way.

We have sorted our destination countries by visa type for you:

Apply for a visa before departure: • Ghana and South Africa (for over 90 days stay) • Thailand (for over 30 days stay)

Visa on entry: • South Africa (only up to 90 days) • Thailand (only up to 30 days)

What vaccinations do I need?

The required vaccinations vary widely from country to country. In the tropics, more vaccinations are needed than in the extra-tropical latitudes. In health care we recommend to use several information channels:

Consultation with the doctor, personal counseling of RGV (you benefit from our many years of practical experience in our target countries), forums and travel reports on the Internet

Attention: For the countries Ghana and Togo, you also need the yellow fever vaccination - this is obligatory upon arrival.

Do I need insurance?

The proof of a valid foreign insurance is a basic requirement for all volunteers and trainees abroad.

Can I choose my own project?

In volunteer work, you always have free choice and you can pick your dream project according to the job description - if there are still places available!

If you have signed up for a specific position and we can not offer you this position, then you can either take advantage of an alternative, or you can withdraw from your application absolutely free of charge.

Can I extend my stay when I'm there?

Yes you can, but there may be some additional costs that need to be covered. Our team in Germany can advise you of this in advance.

Can I choose my accommodation?

At locations where both options are available, you can choose whether you’d prefer to stay in a host family or in the shared volunteer house. For some places, however, only one or the other is appropriate due to the distance from the project. We will give you a recommendation as to what fits best in your case.

How are host families checked/selected?

The host families in our target countries are, in most cases, part of the family environment and circle of close friends of our local team leaders. Selection and review is regularly undertaken by our teams.

Can I share accommodation/project with a friend?

We are always happy to give our participants the opportunity to work together with friends in a project, and to also place them in the same shared accommodation. Shared occupancy requests for the project and accommodation must be indicated at the time of registration.

Since some of our countries are traditionally conservative, it is often not possible to accommodate male and female participants in the same room. However, this is country / site specific and our Head Office can talk you through the options.

When do I find out the exact project/accommodation I'm in?

No later than 4 weeks before departure, our Head Office will send you the specific location with description and associated accommodation, provided that we have your exact departure date and all necessary documents have been submitted by you in good time.

In exceptional cases, it may take a little longer to confirm your project and your accommodation - for example, if the internship placement is particularly complicated, for special project wishes or changed conditions on site. You can always ask us for the current status of your placement.

How will I prepare for my time abroad?

In addition to the extensive information material that you receive, our coordination team in Germany is always there to help you with advice and answers.

Do you have a packing list/info sheet?

You will receive a travel ABC (our complete travel guide) from us before your departure. It contains everything you need to know about your trip, specific to your destination country.

Why do I have to call RGV 3 days before departure?

This phone call is important to discuss last points and to coordinate the progress of your trip and arrival in your destination country. For example, it will explain where you will be picked up from your destination airport and brought into your project.

Will I meet other volunteers?

Yes you will! You will generally meet a range of volunteers who come from Europe at each project.

Can I travel on the weekends?

Almost all of our participants are very active in their free time and use the weekends to travel! Nobody should travel alone, there is no need, as at most locations there are always several participants on site, so you can go on tour together. Our local teams have plenty of insider tips for you and are happy to advise you on organisational issues, such as public transport.

Can I travel after my project?

Yes, you should always plan your travel for the time after your project work, so that you can concentrate fully on your work during the placement. You have to pay attention to the expiry date of your visa. This is the perfect time to enjoy breathtaking nature, diverse wildlife and unforgettable experiences.

Do I book additional activities in advance, or in country?

Most additional services can also be booked flexibly on site, as well as in advance.

Is there internet?

Often there is Wi-Fi in our accommodation, but might not be at the speeds you’re used to in western countries. If this is not available, the mobile network is developed enough in order to browse the internet. SIM cards can be bought very cheaply near all accommodations and come with some great data passes (your team leaders can give you tips here).

What happens if I have a problem when there?

In your destination country, our RGV teams will assist you with all your problems. If your problem can not be solved with the help of the team leaders on site, contact the RGV team in Munich.

How much money should I take?

We have already covered most of the costs with your contribution. Nevertheless, you should plan additional costs of an average of 75 to 125 pounds per week. The biggest additional costs usually arise from your own personal expenses, as well as your leisure time activities.

Here is a list of possible additional costs on site:

• Private expenses • Leisure activities • Use of public transport or rental vehicle (during the week to the project and back to the accommodation, or on weekends for travel) • Extension of your visa • Telephone costs (prepaid)

What rules are there?

With your RGV registration, you will receive important behavioral guidelines to follow. You should also adapt to country-specific practices so as not to appear rude. For example, in Africa and Asia, it is particularly important to treat older people with respect.

Will I receive a certificate of participation?

Yes, after your successful participation in an RGV project, you will receive a confirmation of participation.

Elephant Animal Shelter Project in Thailand
from £1,099 2 weeks

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