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This program is now open to international volunteers!

Join GoEco in Sri Lanka to observe and collect data on wild Asian elephants in their natural habitat! Data collected on this project is used for the conservation efforts of this endangered species.

Program Highlights:
  • Observe magnificent elephants in their natural habitat
  • Contribute to the research and the conservation of Asian elephants
  • Gain experience in field research and wildlife conservation
  • Ethical wildlife volunteer tasks
  • Weekly activities are included, including sunrise hikes and local village tours

Your Schedule at a Glance: (Minimum one-week commitment):

Arrival Day, Sunday:
Arrive at Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB). Volunteers will be picked up at the airport and transferred to their hotel accommodations for this night (all included in program fee.)

Day 1, Monday: Volunteers will meet the local team at a designated location for orientation and an ice breaker, including introductions to the local staff and program activities. Following lunch, volunteers will be split into two groups and begin observations/data collection.

Days 2-5, Tuesday-Friday: Volunteers will rise early to go birding or observing other wildlife before breakfast. Each day, volunteers will split into their two groups and take turns at the “Tree Hut” for observation and ongoing monitoring. The teams will have a break every afternoon for lunch, and partake in an evening activity. 

Day 6, Saturday: For volunteers staying just one week, this is a free day. For volunteers extending, this day will include a sunrise hike, followed by visiting and assisting in a local village and regular volunteer activities afterwards. One-week volunteers are welcome to join.

Day 7, Sunday: Departure day for volunteers staying only one week. Free day for volunteers extending.

Remaining Weeks: The remaining weeks will follow the schedule of volunteering Monday-Saturday and having Sundays free. Departures are on a Sunday.

Check out what past volunteers had to say!
Location of the Project:  Central Province, Sri Lanka
Project length:  Min 1 Week - Max 12 weeks
Arrival Airport:  Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)
Volunteer Work:  Data collection, observation, data analysis
Age:  Min age 18. Volunteers aged 16 and 17 may apply with parental consent.
Number of Volunteers:  Up to 70 international volunteers

What's Included

Accommodations:  Shared, dorm-style rooms in a field house
Food:  All meals are provided
Airport Transfers:  Includes private transfer from Colombo airport to project site in Wasgamuwa.
Orientation:  Orientation and ice breaker provided upon arrival
Support:  Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.

What's not Included

Flights, visas (if required), return private transfer from Wasgamuwa (project site) to Colombo Airport or Galle (around US$150), travel health insurance, personal expenses.
Despite being only 25,500 square miles, the relatively small island country of Sri Lanka, located just off the coast of India, is huge in personality and beauty. It is home to some of the world's most unspoiled landscapes and its abundance of untouched beaches, lush terrain and intriguing wildlife make it an incredibly exciting island to explore. With its remarkable diversity you could find yourself exploring an alpine jungle or tea plantation one day, historical temples and sites the next and of course ultimately taking full advantage of swimming in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka is considered to be a developing country, with a host of different ways to immerse oneself in a unique and authentic culture. 

This program takes place in the Wasgamuwa region, in the central province of Sri Lanka. The entire area including the Wasgamuwa National Park is home to a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and birds, including Asian elephants, sloth bears and leopards. The accommodation overlooks a lake and the Knuckles Mountain Range. 
Volunteer work varies greatly on this program. Volunteers will learn to identify different species, collect behavioral data, conduct trap and conflict surveys and much more! The volunteer work is highly educational and research-based. The working hours are split into a morning and afternoon session, each four hours. 

Some of your tasks may include:
  • Learning how to take photos and data to identify elephants and other wildlife by recording their physical features
  • Collecting elephant behavioral data to develop an elephant ethogram
  • Trail mapping, foraging transects
  • Collecting data for the Elephant ID Catalogue and Elephant Ethogram on a safari
  • Conducting Human–Elephant Conflict (HEC) surveys
  • Teaching environmental education to local school children
  • Fence repair
Internet:  Internet is available but there is no free WiFi. Volunteers need to bring an unlocked phone and purchase a Dialogue SIM with Data to use for Internet service. Volunteers can get a SIM card at the airport.
Laundry:  Volunteers can wash clothes by hand.
Accommodations:  Accommodation during the project is in single-gender, shared dormitory-style rooms with shared, Western-style bathrooms in a field house. Private rooms are available in the adjoining house for an additional fee. Transport to and from the project site each day will be in 4-wheel drive vehicles. Volunteers will be staying in a hotel on the night of arrival.
Food:  Three meals per day are provided. There is an on-site chef. The meals are prepared to suit a Western palate and are not entirely Sri Lankan style. The local team can accommodate most dietary preferences, including vegetarian and vegan meals, but please check with a placement coordinator before booking.
  • Only fully vaccinated participants can enter Sri Lanka (2 weeks after the recommended dose).
  • Online ETA entry visa. We will send you full instructions following application. 
  • Private transfer from Colombo to program location in Wasgamuwa is mandatory because of COVID-19 regulations. Extra fee: US$140 each way and US$180 from Wasgamuwa to Galle (only for combination bookings between the elephant project and our Galle projects). 
  • Minimum age of 18 (16/17 with parental consent)
  • Basic level of English
  • Police clearance form
  • Interest in nature, wildlife and conservation
  • Sense of adventure and interest in new and novel experiences
  • Positive attitude
  • Ability to get along with people from various cultures and of various ethnicities
Adventure Tour (Highly Recommended):
Extend your stay in Sri Lanka by participating in a seven-day Adventure Tour! This adventure tour includes a game drive, visits to waterfalls, a long train ride, an overnight stay at a riverside eco lodge, visits to temples, a village walk, a visit to a spice grove, a visit to Lion Rock, time in the local market as well as a trip to Negombo Beach!
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