I have been accepted to the Plan My Gap Year program to work at The Thailand Elephant Project.
Many of you know I had planned on going to Nepal with an organization out of Australia, but it fell through. I have found this other organization. In looking to the future, I would like to study zoology/wildlife biology and this program will give me a chance to see if that is a good fit for me. Here is information from the website.
Thailand is home to both populations of wild and domesticated populations of the Asian elephant. The domestic population is sadly made up of animals that have been caught from the wild or bred in captivity. These animals have been trained/broken to live and work in the tourist or logging industry. Today, Thailand’s wild population elephant population is struggling for survival. The wild elephant population of Thailand is estimated at 2200 individuals, that live in open grasslands and dense rainforests spread over the country. Historically, domestic elephants have been used predominantly in the logging industry, ironically and unwillingly helping to destroy the very habitat they rely on to survive.
After the ban on logging in 1989, most of the logging elephants ended up being used within the tourist industry or have been used to make a living by begging on the streets of big cities. Walking day and night on these dirty and traffic-congested streets is detrimental to the elephant’s health, and unnatural. Street begging elephants often end up being involved in road traffic accidents, with fatalities commonly occurring for both the elephant and the mahout.
Unfortunately, in Thailand, there are currently no laws to prevent this abuse and mistreatment. Therefore there is an urgent need to help these animals. This is where our volunteers come in. This sanctuary has been created for elephants to retire and be given the respect these amazing creatures deserve. When volunteering with elephants, you will be taught everything you need to know about the care of these captivating creatures. You will work hands-on with the elephants, washing them, feeding them, cleaning and maintaining their enclosures, and going out to collect food for them.
Typical duties for the volunteers include feeding the elephants, cleaning their enclosures, washing the elephants, walking the elephants to the forest, creating enrichments, maintaining enclosures, pools and mud baths, harvesting plant matter, including banana trees and grasses.
The working day starts at 6:30am at the Volunteer House. The Volunteer House is where all organisation and orientation of volunteers is based. Volunteers will normally finish work around 5pm, with several breaks throughout the day for breakfast, lunch and water and toilet breaks. Volunteers are expected to work 6 days a week with one day off. The work is very physically and mentally demanding but the end result is always well worth it.
As you can see it will be a lot of work, but I think it will be beneficial to me. I would appreciate any financial assistance you could provide. Any funds above and beyond what is needed for this trip will be set aside for my college bills next year. Thank you!