Sri Lanka – Wild Elephant Conservation and Research

Travel to 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, Saturday: 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 the program fee).

Day 1, Sunday: Sunday is a flexible welcome day and orientation to allow you to settle into your new home away from home. 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.

Days 2-5, Monday-Friday: Volunteers rise early to go birding or observe other wildlife before breakfast. Each day, volunteers will split into their two groups and take turns conducting ongoing observations and monitoring of elephants at a lake and at an Elephant Corridor. 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 departure 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.

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


Location icon Location of the Project: Central Province, Sri Lanka

Project length Project length: Minimum 1 Week – Maximum 12 weeks

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB)

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Data collection, observation, data analysis

Age Age:  Minimum age 18. Volunteers aged 17 may apply with parental consent.

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 70 international volunteers


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared, dorm-style rooms in a field house

Food Food: All meals are provided

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers: Includes private transfer from Colombo airport to project site in Wasgamuwa and return transfer at the end of the program.

Orientation Orientation: Orientation provided upon arrival

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, online ETA visa (around $35), 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 icon Internet: Internet is available but there is no free WiFi. Volunteers need to bring an unlocked phone and purchase a SIM with data to use for Internet service. Volunteers can get a SIM card at the airport.

Laundry icon Laundry: Volunteers can wash clothes by hand.

Accommodations icon 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 4×4 vehicles. Volunteers will be staying in a hotel on the night of arrival (included in the placement fee). During the busy months between June to December, the Volunteer House may be fully booked, thus volunteers will be accommodated at a partner Guesthouse, which is a beachfront property on Unawatuna Beach located less than a 100 metre walk from Volunteer House.

Food icon 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 the application.
  • 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!

Volunteer Experiences

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