Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand, an unforgivable experience related to you by volunteer Emmie who recently spend some time at the Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai province – Northern Thailand.
Best part? Maybe bathing with the elephants in the local river or getting covered in babies elephant spit!
Read her amazing international volunteering experience!
Emmie and the Elephants...
All pictures supplied by Emmie
I volunteered in Thailand at the “Elephant Nature Park” through International Student Volunteers (ISV).
I heard about this opportunity through Uni and participated in November-December 2013.
The time spent volunteering was amongst the hill tribes of Chiang Mai.
Where's Emmie? The International Student Volunteers group
There were two total weeks of volunteering, wish it was longer!
Fashion for volunteers at the Elephant Nature Park...
The atmosphere was amazing everyone was helpful and happy and very passionate about volunteering.
Many great friends were made and we all continue
to keep in contact with each other.
"Morning walks meeting all the elephants.
This poor lady is blind from her previous owners slingshotting her eyes when she wouldn't work because of exhaustion.
Such a sad thing to see…"
We started off lightly, just going around and feeding and patting the elephants as we did a walk around the park. This way the Mahouts (trainer/owner) were able to give us the very tragic stories as to why each individual elephant had to be saved.
Then the chores got grubbier, with tasks like:
Now, elephants eat tones so we were at it all day: peeling bananas, cutting melons and pumpkins...
Preparing Elephant food
That was only for one day, but we had to fill a huge truck up!
While each volunteer individually had cut about 10-15 bundles for the day, each mahout managed to cute about 50 each.
Still all volunteers went back sore armed and blisters in their hands!
Cutting grass for elephants
We stacked the poop into wheelbarrows and empty it all onto a giant pile of poo...
It turns out that this poo is taken out to all the farms for more
nutrients towards their crops. So in the end it is useful poop.
On these parts of the day, we were able to interact with them at a more personal level.
Emmie during her favourite part of the day: the elephant bath!
Accommodation was good; the beds were hard though but were given adequate linen and mosquito nets, the rooms were a 2-5 capacity size.
Accommodation at Elephant Nature Park
There were about 13 of us within the International Student Volunteers group, but people from outside the organization are able to go and volunteer individually their time at Elephant Nature Park, which I highly recommend!
Interacting with Elephants...
The trip including flights cost $AUS4000, but with kind donations from people I managed to raise 3/4 of the costs.
As it is a volunteer trip I was able to fundraise most of it, where I used tins and asked family and friends for donations and businesses in my local area.
If we wanted to buy and gifts or extra food then we paid for it separately.But we were given a buffet for breakfast lunch and dinner which had exquisite Thai foods.
Buffet provided, 3 times a day, for all volunteers
Here are some of the things that helped me raise the money:
Raise money by having an animal onesie party!
proud of having created some 'scratching posts' or in other words 'barriers for
the trees' as these will stay on the park for a long time and if I come back to
the park they'll still be there.
Emmie building Elephant scratching posts
I've learnt to be more grateful and appreciative of the things we use every day: transport, technology, beds.
Some of these Thai people have a thin yoga mattress on the ground but are happy because they are making money through the Elephant Nature Park to send their children to school, and the children are just the happiest and most grateful kids when they have hardly nothing to their name.
Emmie in the paper!
There's no qualifications needed!
So there's no excuse to not get over to Thailand!
Poop picking up - it stank soooo bad and was so heavy!!
The baby elephants would just run at you and try and rip your arm off when you had food, happened to a few girls and was hilarious!
They got covered in elephant spit!
Baby Elephant spit: Yummy
Definitely 110% recommend it! Great experience!
Volunteer with the elephants of Elephant Nature Park and help disabled, blind, and orphaned elephants that have often a history of abuse as working animals or as part of street begging.
You can see more about the conditions of booking your volunteer experience at the Elephant Nature Park Volunteer page.