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Join us as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka to play a key role in education, research and conservation of Asian elephants. Based in the central province, the Wasgamuwa region and National Park is famous for hosting a large number of wild elephant herds. Volunteers will engage in a wide range of research and conservation to see how these elephants live and move in their natural habitat. Help provide solutions and education to the conflicts that exist between the elephant population and multiple villages located within the area.





Over the past 50 years, the elephant population in Sri Lanka has reduced substantially. Firstly, not only are there persisting issues of keeping captive elephants, elephant riding and labour, but nearly 5,000 elephant deaths in this period are believed to be a direct result of the conflict that exists between humans and elephants. In the present day, human-elephant conflict is said to be responsible for around 250 elephant deaths and 80 human deaths annually in Sri Lanka.


So what is human-elephant conflict? The simplest explanation would be the elephant and human populations not getting along. One of the main reasons is the competition for land. On one side of the coin, it is humans encroaching onto the territory of elephants and habitats shrinking daily. On the other hand, rising populations and urbanisation challenges see elephants having nowhere else to go and end up in fields searching for food. This is much to the dismay of many poor farmers who haven’t changed their daily lives and routines for generations. However, they see their crops, villages and ultimately livelihoods being destroyed.


To expand on this, the destruction of forests through logging, encroachment and shifting cultivation are some examples of major threats to the survival of elephants. Conflicts occur when elephants raid crops of subsistence farmers, which are scattered over a large area fragmenting elephant habitat. Devastation and destruction in human settlements is another major area of human-elephant conflict occurring in small forest pockets, encroachments into elephant habitat, and on elephant migration routes. Subsequently, thousands of homes are destroyed by elephants and millions of dollars worth of crop damage arise, wrecking livelihoods and incomes of rural farming communities.


Wasgamuwa is the core base of your work as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, representing an area where human-elephant conflict is the highest prevalent issue and concern. Wasgamuwa National Park is adjacent to the villages and forest reserves where most of the volunteer work is conducted. Moreover, this is the only national park in the whole of the central province where you will encounter these gentle giants in their natural habitats. Established originally by a team of biologists in 1995, the wildlife volunteer program aimed to distinguish root causes to the conflict, as well as work with the local people to educate and establish mitigation systems. It was vital that these measures protect the villagers' livelihoods, as well as help minimize elephant casualties. Meanwhile, allowing wild elephants to live in their natural habitat.


As an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you will be working directly with 12 of the villages based in the Wasgamuwa area where human-elephant conflict is an ongoing issue. Your role on this wildlife volunteering abroad program will be aiding the research and conservation techniques to halt the decline of this wonderful endangered species. This includes monitoring elephant behaviour and movements. Meanwhile, your role is in tandem with helping the communities and villages learn to live side by side with these amazing creatures.


Working alongside local biologists, research assistants and conservationists to help conduct research, you will get involved in a number of activities as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka. You'll be focusing in the fields of conservation and research on this wildlife volunteer program, all with the ultimate aim of reducing human-elephant conflict and promoting sustainable land-use practices.


Based in the wild Wasgamuwa region, each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka will be working in one of the most spectacular and tranquil places across the globe. Your animal volunteering day will be split into morning and afternoon activities, often working in subgroups depending on how many people volunteer in Sri Lanka. Usually, you'll be up early to start after breakfast around 8:30am, breaking for lunch and finishing around 6pm from Monday-Friday. You will get around the project by jeep from the accommodation into the heart of the reserve and jungle. Journey times will usually be up to 45 minutes. The schedule is designed around the activity patterns of elephants.


Consequently, this ensures conservation techniques and research can be maximised and your role is varied and meaningful. The timings of each activity are set in a routine to minimise the impacts on the daily cycle of an elephant. There are two main goals of the project; reducing the human-elephant conflict to protect elephants and help the local community as well as protecting elephants through applied conservation methods. Here are a variety of tasks that you will get involved with to achieve these goals:


Reducing Human-Elephant Conflict


Throughout your time as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you will work closely with the local villages to help them live compatibly with elephants. The main goal is to naturally decrease the conflict and repercussions that follow between humans and elephants. Your role in this includes:


Observing Interactions - Most importantly, between wild elephants and also human-elephant interactions.


Conducting Human-Elephant Conflict Surveys - An elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka will visit village homes that had been raided by elephants to collect information about the conflict.


Monitoring Electric Fences - These fences were erected to stop elephants from raiding village homes. Walking the length of solar-powered electric fences erected to protect villages and their fields, identifying the need for maintenance and repair along the way.


Meeting with Community Leaders - Monitoring human-elephant conflict resolution projects and to understand the cultural perceptions and attitudes of local people.


Riding the Elefriendly Community Bus - You can travel on the bus early in the morning when school children are transported to school and home through the elephant corridor. The bus was established in 2016 and educates the children on living alongside the elephants. The maintenance of the bus and its operation is fully funded directly through the elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka project. Before the bus, many children would not go to school or turn back home should they encounter an elephant while walking to school.


Promoting Project Orange Campaigns - Research by the team has found elephants dislike citrus. As an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, your role is working alongside the team to educate and promote citrus-based crops as natural deterrents and to provide farmers with an alternative income in the village communities of Wasgamuwa. Consequently, this will protect and conserve their crops, property and livelihoods. At the same time, it provides them with a sustainable additional income. Help farmers to take care of their orange groves, check for diseases and pests, dig holes to plant new orange plants. During the fruiting season, help count fruits, harvest and sort them for sale. The Sri Lanka elephant volunteer program will provide transport costs for the farmers to take them to the markets for sale with the long-term aim to get into supply with Sri Lanka’s largest supermarket supply chain.


Protecting Elephants Through Conservation Techniques


An elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka will monitor elephants closely in order to help develop strategies to conserve and protect the local wildlife. Here you will use an array of field methods, conduct observations and help to implement conservation measures:


Monitoring Tracks - Setting up sand traps across the jungle and elephant corridors to study tracks, building research, analysing findings and understanding the diversity that exists in the forest. This will require physical energy as you will dig up and rake fresh new 2 x 2-metre sand traps each week to check for new footprints. Expect to find more wildlife prints than just elephants as you look for signs of leopard, sloth bears, wild buffalos and of course elephant activity.


Setting up Camera Traps - As an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you may be responsible for setting these up in hotspot locations across the forest. You'll be replacing these each week with new SD cards. After a busy morning in the depths of the Sri Lankan forest, it's time to return to the office to download data from the SD cards you collected and check the computer for what the camera traps have picked up in the last week. Be ready to make conclusions on the findings as you learn what different wildlife exists in the forests, what times of day elephants and other wildlife pass through the corridor and more.


Gaining GPS Experience - You'll be polishing off your navigation skills on the Sri Lanka elephant volunteer program. For instance, in the use of GPS across your time in the forest.


Observing Movements - During the afternoons you might be located high up in the jungle treetop in tree huts. These are along the elephant corridor, which is the traditional popular route elephants use to move between the forest reserve and national park. Here you will observe passing elephants, collate data on their movements, behaviours and other variables.


Gathering Data - For example, on elephant foraging transects, plants elephants eat and their impact on various habitats and plant species.


Inspecting Elephant Dung - Taking measurements to assess the size and sex of elephants. After that, analysing the dung to find out what the elephants have been eating, any foreign objects inside and their movement patterns. An elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka can also learn about the elephant’s sex and age through the size of the dung!


Trekking Through Dense Jungles and Wetlands - As you walk along typical elephant trails to record findings, you'll assess any seasonal variations in behaviours, habitat preferences and better understand elephants that live outside the national park.


Updating Records - You will get to spend a session at the Weheragala Tank looking for Sri Lankan elephants to observe and photograph for ID purposes. You will also have to fill in an elephant identification datasheet to build up a catalogue of elephant numbers, movement behaviours and any individually defining physical features.


Whatever the activity, being an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka will incorporate you being based in the heart of their natural habitat as you trek through the jungles, wetlands and mountains of Wasgamuwa along the way. In your free time enjoy the incredible views offered by the volunteer accommodation, overlooking a large central reservoir surrounded by the Knuckles Mountain Range.


Each volunteer in Sri Lanka will receive an orientation session before heading into the field to better understand their role, impact and history of the Sri Lanka volunteer program. If you truly want to make a difference to wildlife conservation efforts by working closely with local communities, then volunteering in Sri Lanka with elephants is the project for you.


Strictly Hands-Off - Please be aware the elephant conservation volunteer work in Sri Lanka is strictly hands-off. Volunteer work with elephants in Sri Lanka will involve no physical interaction with animals. This project is designed to observe elephants in their natural habitat rather than offering a human interaction experience


Rural Location - Please note that our Sri Lanka elephant volunteer program is based in a rural area, which is more remote than our other projects where you can volunteer in Sri Lanka.


Combining Projects - It is possible to join another Sri Lanka volunteer program on the south coast at the beginning of your trip, before your volunteer work with elephants in Sri Lanka. Please speak to a member of our team to discuss your options.


Weekends - Your project work in Sri Lanka runs from Monday-Friday and weekends are free. You are welcome to relax and hang out at the volunteer accommodation but most participants will use this time to travel and explore the country. As a result, you can check out our Sri Lanka Weekend Travel Guide for top tips on how to spend your weekend.


Can people from outside of the UK or USA volunteer with PMGY?

Of course! Although PMGY was founded in the UK, with offices now extending between the UK and US, we welcome participants of all nationalities onto our programs. Within the last decade, we have hosted tens of thousands of volunteers from across the globe. From France to Italy, Mexico to India, Namibia to Russia and Ireland to China – these are only a handful of the countries volunteers have joined us from! We want everyone from across the world to have an equal opportunity at experiencing a different perspective on life, and make friends across the world.

Why are PMGY’s fees so much more affordable than other organisations?

The PMGY International Team works hard to ensure that our fees are kept as low as possible. Consequently, this makes our experiences affordable and accessible without sacrificing the safety and quality of the overall experience.


Registration Fees to join our programs are assigned to the high levels of comprehensive support that we are renowned for. This includes telephone and online support staff available 24 hours each day, as well as detailed hand-guides and interactive webinars. Therefore, the remaining Program Fees to join the program go directly to our in-country teams, covering everything for your time volunteering. In general, these fees are reflected in your accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, in-country support and project upkeep during your time abroad. Furthermore, we make sure our fees are transparent, which is something our volunteers really appreciate.


Similar organisations offer fancy brochures, run large high-street offices and are usually owned by larger travel organisations with many shareholders. As a result, participants are charged an extremely high price to cover all of these overheads. Therefore, at PMGY, we have embraced the online age by focusing everything around an online presence. We have done away with out-dated brochures, an unnecessary high street presence and we are an independent organisation without any outside financial interests.

What are the requirements to volunteer in Sri Lanka?

PMGY welcomes elephant volunteers in Sri Lanka of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds. The minimum age to join the program is 17 and there is no upper age limit. Furthermore, all volunteers need to have a good level of English, although it does not need to be your first language. Of course, you do not need to speak Sinhalese or Tamil. However, you will find that learning a few words in your days with us in Sri Lanka will go a long way.


Each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka must be able to provide a clean criminal background check in advance of volunteering with us abroad. Thus, we are unable to accept anyone who has any previous criminal convictions. In general, no formal experience or qualifications are required for the projects, just lots of energy, enthusiasm and preparation! However, medical and healthcare projects usually require additional documentation before participation begins in-country.


Volunteering overseas can be both physically and mentally challenging. Therefore, all participants must be fit in both areas. Consequently, if you have any medical/mental health conditions that may affect your participation overseas, then these must be declared to us during your online application. If you have any queries regarding your suitability to participate, we recommend that you contact us before committing to the program.

What date should I arrive and leave the Sri Lanka volunteer program?

For your volunteer trip to Sri Lanka, you should book your flights to Colombo Bandaranaike Airport on the Saturday start date to arrive after 9:30am. The airport code is CMB. You will be met at the airport by a member of the local team or an appointed driver, who will be holding a named sign. They will take you to your accommodation where you will spend the rest of your day at leisure.


The program ends on the Saturday of your final week. Therefore, you must depart the accommodation on this day.

When is the best time of year to volunteer in Sri Lanka?

Feedback from each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka often suggests that it is best to join a PMGY project outside the European summer months. This is since June-August tends to be when we have peak numbers at each of our projects and volunteer accommodations. Conversely, outside of these months, there is typically the greatest opportunity to become fully immersed in the project and within the local community.

Are there any age restrictions to be a volunteer in Sri Lanka?

In order to join as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you need to be at least 17 on the program start date. Generally, the average age range of volunteers is 17-25.


There is no upper age limit to our programs, and in the past, we have hosted participants up to the age of 70-years old. Whilst we have found that our more mature participants get a lot from the experience, at times individuals have found it more challenging to integrate with a younger crowd. Furthermore, some participants have perhaps expected a higher level of accommodation, the structure within the local community, and general overall communication at the project setup. Consequently, whilst we welcome volunteers of all ages, we stress that all participants should remain open-minded and flexible. Additionally, participants must appreciate that the majority of our participants are across the 17-25 age range.

When should I apply to be an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka?

For the majority of our programs, you can apply at any time. However, we advise that you apply as soon as possible to ensure we have availability on the program. This is since some of our programs only have limited capacity, meaning that spaces get filled very quickly. Therefore, it is particularly important that you apply in good time if you’re looking to travel between our peak period of June and August. This is because spaces can fill up very quickly during this period. Furthermore, please only apply if you are 100% committed to joining the program. You need to apply online by locating the “Apply Now” button on the individual project page. This will guide you through our online Application Process.


Indeed, once you have applied and confirmed your place on the program, it may be possible to change your start dates and this will not incur a fee. However, please note that this will be subject to availability and any changes should be made at least 45 days prior to your start date.

What duration would you recommend to volunteering for?

Based on feedback from previous elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, we believe that 4-6 weeks is the ideal amount of time to volunteer in Sri Lanka. Consequently, this means you have enough time to integrate into the local community and really get involved in a project. For one thing, you will be able to make a positive impact on community development. Additionally, you will have a greater opportunity to explore during your weekends. An elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka who joins us for 2 weeks frequently tell us that this was long enough and wish they had stayed for longer!


For those looking to potentially join us for a longer period, we recommend checking out our Encounter Programs that offer a 2-4 week stay across 3-10 destinations.

Can I volunteer abroad with my friend/parent/boyfriend/girlfriend?

You’re more than welcome to travel and volunteer with friends, family members or with a boyfriend/girlfriend. If required, we can make sure that you stay in the same accommodation and volunteer for the same project. However, please note the majority of our volunteer accommodation is on a single-sex basis. Consequently, we cannot guarantee that you would be able to be placed in the same room.


Please outline in the ‘Special Requirements’ box of your online application if you’d like to make sure you’re placed alongside another applicant/s.

Is it safe to travel to PMGY destinations?

Although our volunteers work in the developing world, we work hard to ensure that our host locations are safe. Firstly, volunteer safety in each of our destinations is monitored regularly. Each of our volunteer programs has been inspected by a member of the PMGY International Team. Additionally, PMGY closely follows advice published by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Alongside the frequent contact we have with our local teams, we are able to ensure that our volunteers are never placed in unstable or unsafe regions.


The PMGY International Team have visited and participated in every program we offer. Thus, we have carefully inspected every little detail of our set-up, from the living conditions to local neighbourhoods and even the food you’ll be eating. Through these checks, we are able to ensure that all of our projects are up to scratch. Furthermore, all of our local teams are experienced development professionals, with years of experience hosting international volunteers. They are PMGY’s representatives on the ground and assist volunteers 24/7 throughout their stay. Our teams are therefore always on-hand to assist in any emergencies that may occur. Additionally, our 24 hour international emergency telephone line is always accessible. PMGY’s in-country staff also have access to local medical professionals should these be required during a participant’s time with us.


When you join as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, we will send you a Volunteer Handbook. This document addresses a range of issues such as health, safety, visas and dress codes. For any unanswered or specific questions, PMGY offers a comprehensive support network, with online and telephone support staff available 24 hours each day. Our advisers welcome participants to ask as many questions as needed for them to effectively prepare for their trip overseas. On a monthly basis, our International Team also hosts both an Introductory Webinar and Safety Webinar. These are interactive opportunities for international volunteers to learn more about our projects and managing their safety overseas.


When you arrive in-country, you’ll be given a comprehensive introduction to the general volunteer program and your specific project. During this session, our team will also cover important safety advice specific to your country. You’ll also be given the opportunity to purchase a local SIM-card. This is something we strongly suggest, so you’re contactable at all times. In like manner, we will provide you with a full list of the important contact numbers that you’ll need to know.


Although we cannot guarantee your volunteer experience to be 100% trouble-free we have taken all the necessary precautions to make sure each program is as safe as possible.

When do I pay for my volunteer program? Can I pay in instalments?

In order to confirm your place as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you need to pay a deposit of 249 USD. The remaining fee is then due no less than 45 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge. If you’re applying within 45 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.


Payments made in advance of the 45 day window can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur. Bank transfers can be accepted by UK participants only.

Can I be an elephant volunteer as part of a university or college placement?

It is certainly possible to be an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka as part of your university or college placement. However, PMGY is unable to guarantee that the Sri Lanka elephant volunteers program will fulfil the requirements of your establishment. Therefore, participants are encouraged to speak to a member of the International Team to establish whether the required parameters can be met. This should be done in advance of applying to the program. When appropriate, school/college/university representatives are welcome to contact PMGY to discuss further the suitability of the program in meeting the participant’s requirements. In addition, PMGY operates as one of many school trip companies who can arrange group trips to Sri Lanka.


First of all, the PMGY International Team are able to complete paperwork after each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka has confirmed their place on the program. Additionally, project staff in Sri Lanka can also sign-off any paperwork that is required by your course tutors. However, while our team will do their best to complete any paperwork, we are unable to guarantee that we will be able to comply with every learning objective and requirement or your university/college. In the event that your university/college do not accept the paperwork submitted by PMGY, then you will be unable to be refunded for your trip. PMGY regularly receives medical, nursing, childcare and psychology placement students on our projects globally, with ties with some leading universities.


If you’re a course tutor and would like further information about how one of PMGY’s programs could meet the placement requirements for your course, please contact us directly to schedule a meeting.


Can I fundraise for my trip as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka?

With PMGY, the money our volunteers pay goes towards the structure you receive on the Sri Lanka volunteer program. The fundamentals of this cover aspects such as accommodation, airport pick-ups, around the clock support from our international and in-country teams, pre-departure training as well as the implementation and monitoring of the projects.


We do our best to keep our program costs as low and affordable as possible, without sacrificing quality and safety. However, with flights, travel insurance and spending money to factor into your overall budget, you may find you need a little bit of help with the finances. Consequently, a large number of PMGY volunteers decide to fundraise for their trip. In these instances, we recommend that each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka sets up an online fundraising page to notify friends and family of your trip.


PMGY have partnered with the online crowdfunding website GoGetFunding for volunteers to create a personalised fundraising page for their trip. This professional online fundraising service allows you to set financial goals and get the message across about what you’re doing. You can also share your PMGY fundraising page across various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word.

Can I raise money for the projects?

The PMGY Foundation is a UK registered charity (1169415). This charity has been created to help provide financial aid and assistance to projects we work with on an ongoing basis. Importantly, the objective of the PMGY Foundation is the prevention or relief of poverty for people living in the communities we support. This is achieved by providing or assisting the provision of education, training, healthcare and general living support. Therefore together, we hope that the support offered by the PMGY Foundation helps to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. Consequently, donations made to the PMGY Foundation will be directed to the projects most in need. This is determined by the trustees of the charity during our International Team overseas visits.


If you are looking to help raise money directly for the PMGY Foundation, you can do so via our Virgin Money Giving fundraising page. 100% of all money raised will be donated directly to the projects we support around the world. However, please note that participants are unable to raise money through the PMGY Foundation to help finance the cost of their trip overseas. For an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka looking for further information on how to raise money for their trip abroad, please visit our fundraising page.

How do I register for your online webinars?

Every Tuesday at 4pm (London time), the PMGY International Team hosts one of four pre-departure webinars. These last approximately 45 minutes each and importantly provide volunteers in Sri Lanka with invaluable advice on their upcoming trip. The webinars are hosted by a member of our International Team, who all have extensive knowledge of our projects around the globe. You can attend (and even ask questions) from anywhere in the world, simply by logging in through your own computer. All you need is a computer, a good internet connection and a pair of headphones. In addition to this, if any family or friends would like to attend the session as well, they are more than welcome to do so.


For individuals who have not yet signed up to one of our programs, but would like to learn more about us, we encourage you to join our Introductory Webinar. Across 45 minutes, a member of the International team will introduce you to the concept of volunteering abroad, our destinations and both social and safety aspects of our programs.


For an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka who has already confirmed their volunteering role on the program, there are three for you to choose from. Please note that you need to sign up for the webinar a few days in advance.


Travel Essentials Pre-Departure Webinar – covers all the basics.


Program Preparation Webinar – covers specifically childcare and teaching community work programs.


Safety & Wellbeing Overseas Webinar – covers the risks associated with overseas travel and how you can keep as safe as possible.

Will I require vaccinations and malaria tablets for my volunteer work?

It is possible that as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka you may require a course of vaccinations in preparation for your volunteer work in Sri Lanka. However, unfortunately, PMGY is unable to legally advise on these matters, since we are not medical experts. Therefore, it is vital that you contact your local doctor or travel clinic a few months in advance of your intended travel. Your local doctor/nurse will be able to advise you on vaccinations and malaria prevention you may need for entry into your volunteer destination. Additional information can be found on the NHS Fit For Travel website.

How do I arrange my flights to volunteer in Sri Lanka?

When you apply to be an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, we cannot guarantee your place on the program immediately. Indeed, on receiving an application, we have to liaise with our local team to ensure there is space available on the program and to assess your suitability for the specific project. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you do not make any flight and/or travel arrangements until your program has been confirmed by us in writing. Of course, once your place as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka has been confirmed, you are then free to book your flights either with PMGY or through a third-party travel agent.


After confirming your place on a PMGY volunteer program, we strongly advise that you book your flights as early as possible. This is since it will help ensure that you get the lowest airfare. You can choose to book your flights independently or we can help you with arranging them. PMGY has a wealth of experience in travelling to and from our host countries. Therefore, we know the most affordable ways to travel and the best airlines to use. Therefore, if you would like any assistance booking your flight, you can request an optional flight quote during your online application. Alternatively, feel free to contact us on the phone or by email.

Do you offer travel insurance?

Importantly, having an appropriate travel insurance policy during your time abroad is essential. Therefore, it is mandatory for all of our international volunteers to be appropriately covered across all of their trip dates. This includes your travel to and from the host country, as well as any onward travel. Although PMGY does everything to ensure your trip is safe, inevitably things can go wrong. Therefore, having a travel insurance policy in place helps you effectively deal with any problems you may encounter during your time away.


We have partnered up with the insurance company Endsleigh to create an affordable and comprehensive optional policy. This has been designed with our international volunteers in mind, to cover our participants for all of their travel essentials. The policy is available to anyone across the globe, up to the age of 65 years. The document will cover you for your time on any PMGY destination and any onward travel (excluding the US and Canada). You can purchase PMGY Travel Insurance during your online application or you can contact us directly to arrange it.

How do I obtain a background check?

To become an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you’ll need to provide us with a clean DBS or Police Check before you travel. This is a check that must be issued by an official Governmental or Police Body. PMGY have a commitment to the projects we support to ensure the volunteers we send are trustworthy and of sound moral character. Consequently, we are unable to accept participants who have had any previous criminal convictions.


If you hold a current DBS or Police Check, then we can accept this, providing it is clear and issued no more than 18 months prior to your program start date. You will need to upload a copy of this to your online portal after confirming your place on the program. Furthermore, the DBS or Police Check must be submitted to us no less than 21 days prior to your program start date.


If you don’t have a valid DBS check, then you will need to apply for one. UK volunteers need to apply for a “Basic Disclosure” through Gov.uk (which serves all people in the UK). This costs 23 GBP and takes around 15 working days to process. Full information on how to obtain a DBS check through Gov.uk is outlined in the Volunteer Handbook, received once you have confirmed your place as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka.


For every elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka from the US, you can apply for a background check through Sentry Link. It costs 19.95 USD and is usually processed immediately. Alternatively, you are welcome to arrange your own background check through your local Sheriff’s Office or governmental body.


For all other international participants, we recommend you obtain a Police/Criminal Background Check through your local police station or official governmental body.

When will I receive my Volunteer Handbook?

All volunteers in Sri Lanka will receive a PMGY Volunteer Handbook once they have paid their deposit and confirmed their place on the program. We will send you an email entitled ‘Welcome to PMGY’ which will include a link where you can download the Volunteer Handbook. Please note that we do not send a hard copy of the PMGY Volunteer Handbook.


This Handbook contains everything you need to know to prepare as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka. Ranging from what to pack to how to obtain a visa, we do our best to ensure you are ready to hit the ground running. Therefore, it is really important that you read through the Volunteer Handbook carefully once you’ve downloaded it. If you find any of your questions unanswered after reading through this, then our team are always on hand to assist you. You can contact us via email, telephone, Zoom, Facebook, online chat…whatever works best for you!


Can I arrange a private room?

All of our accommodation options on the Sri Lanka volunteer program involve sharing a room with other participants (usually same-sex). Unfortunately, we are unable to arrange private room options for each elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka.

Can you cater for my dietary requirements?

Our teams will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka. Consequently, there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Importantly, any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.

Are there any public holidays that affect project availability?

We aim to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible all holidays that impact project availability. This information can be found via our Holiday Dates page and in the Volunteer Handbook. However, due to the nature of developing countries, holidays can often be sporadic or prone to change. In turn, these can unexpectedly affect project availability. Therefore in such instances, we ask our volunteers to be flexible and appreciative of this. These periods often provide volunteers in Sri Lanka with a unique experience to enjoy the festivities and holidays themselves. However, our local teams will always do their best to find alternative project work if applicable/possible.

What is the dress code at the projects?

Dress code varies from country-to-country and sometimes from project-to-project. Importantly, we ask that our volunteers adopt a smart and responsible image during their time in the communities. Of course, we will outline the specific dress code requirements in your Volunteer Handbook so you know exactly what to pack. In addition to this, our local team will also brief you during your in-country orientation on arrival in Sri Lanka.


The general rule of thumb for girls is to cover shoulders, chest, stomach and thighs. In a like matter, for men, shorts should not lie above the knee and shirts should cover shoulders. Whilst we do not wish to impose strict regulations on our volunteers, we do ask that you respect the local culture during your travels. Moreover, dressing appropriately will earn you the respect of the people you’ll be working with. Therefore, our Volunteer Handbooks, outline preferred dress-codes in detail.


Additionally, it’s also a good idea to take some nicer clothes for the weekends and special occasions. However, please avoid tight and very short clothing. You should also avoid clothing that may have potentially offensive slogans on it. Tattoos and piercings should be covered where possible whilst you’re at your placement, particularly if you’re working with children.

How much spending money will I need?

The amount of extra spending money you should take with you as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka can depend on a multitude of factors. Considerations include what you undertake during your free time and how many souvenirs you purchase! Therefore, if you plan to go for a safari in Tanzania or perhaps go trekking in South Africa, you will need to budget accordingly. However, for general expenses and some independent travel, you should find 100-150 USD per week a suitable amount.

Will I be able to travel whilst on the program?

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to travel during your time with PMGY. In fact, we encourage you to travel during your free time! Most of our programs have been designed so that you have weekends off. Therefore, this gives you the opportunity to explore the local area or even travel further afield within your host country. Our local coordinators will provide you with all the weekend opportunities and travel tips you need to help you plan any independent adventures. During your time as an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka, you are sure to make some travel buddies along the way!


Before booking your flights, we recommend that you look into travel opportunities across dates on either side of your volunteering placement. It is always great to spend some time travelling and seeing more of the country you wish to volunteer in. However, if you plan to travel extensively, please factor this into your flight itinerary. This is since we only encourage travel during weekends while you’re volunteering, as you have made a commitment to be an elephant volunteer in Sri Lanka.


Volunteer House


When you volunteer in Sri Lanka with elephants, you’ll be staying in the central region of Sri Lanka. The Volunteer House, also known as the Pussellayaya Field House, is located on a scenic hill overlooking a lake and the Knuckles Mountain Range. The accommodation is just 15 minutes from the Wasgamuwa National Park and the local town is named Hettipola.


The project accommodation is very basic, but comfortable and clean, fitting up to 8 people per room. On your Sri Lanka volunteer program you will be sure to meet volunteers from around the world, to mix with other cultures and countries in this fantastic setting, as well as having the security knowing that the local team also lives on-site.


The Volunteer House has same-sexed bedrooms, sectioned off for privacy situated around two communal social areas. There are shared bathrooms that have western style toilets and cold showers, which will prove refreshing after a hot, humid and energy-sapping day on the project!


All of the essentials are provided for you, such as mosquito nets, electric fans, pillows, plug sockets and clean bedsheets. A fridge is provided for volunteers should you want to store any cool items. The Volunteer House has a dining room and lounge area where volunteers gather and socialise during meals and evenings.


The accommodation is open and spacious with a high roof, which catches breezes off the lake to keep the house relatively cool during hot days and nights and ensures the house remains dry during the rainy season. You are awoken every morning by the gorgeous sunrise and the vibrant songs of the local birds around. If you wake up early enough, you will be lucky enough to catch the amazing sunrises from the open entrance of the accommodation!


There is a communal area where everyone comes together in free time. The accommodation is very simplistic with no entertainment or media such as television, giving a perfect opportunity to interact with fellow volunteers. The walls of the field house are covered in decorative paintings, murals and graffiti done by past volunteers and you are encouraged to pick up a paintbrush and contribute to brightening up the house surroundings! There are many board games and local games to get involved with to keep you occupied or simply choose to read a book on the veranda as the sunsets down in the evening!


You will be transported to the national park for your project, where your schedule of tasks may vary each day for your volunteer work in Sri Lanka.


You will be served three freshly prepared meals per day at the Volunteer House. You will have some free time after lunch for your stomach to settle before the afternoon session! Most meals are traditional Sri Lankan dishes that can be typically quite spicy. Sri Lankan cuisine consists of a lot of rice and the meat is mainly fish or chicken – vegetarian options are always available and the meals tend to be mainly vegetarian anyway.


There are tea and coffee facilities provided for volunteers to refresh themselves whenever required as well as water filters, so remember to top up before you head into the jungle!


Here is an example of the meals you can expect:

* Our team will do their best to cater for any dietary requirements. However, this cannot be guaranteed. This means that there may be instances where you need to purchase alternative ingredients at your own expense. Any dietary requirements should be noted within your application and re-iterated to the local team on arrival into the country. Any concerns for major requirements should be raised with the PMGY International Team before confirming your place on the program.






1 week
705 USD
249 USD
954 USD
2 weeks
870 USD
249 USD
1,119 USD
3 weeks
1,110 USD
249 USD
1,359 USD
4 weeks
1,485 USD
249 USD
1,734 USD
6 weeks
1,725 USD
249 USD
1,974 USD
8 weeks
2,040 USD
249 USD
2,289 USD
10 weeks
2,400 USD
249 USD
2,649 USD
12 weeks
2,835 USD
249 USD
3,084 USD

* These fees apply to each individual application.


In order to apply to join PMGY you are required to make your Registration Fee payment of 249 USD. In the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your Registration Fee will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying. The remaining fee is then due no less than 45 days prior to your program start date. During this period if you need to make a change to your trip (destination, program or date) then this can be facilitated free of charge.


If you’re applying within 45 days of your program start date then you’ll need to pay the full amount to confirm your place. Likewise, in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on the program then your payment will be refunded in full within 48 hours of applying.


Any remaining payments must be made no less than 45 days prior to your start date. This payment can be made in one lump sum or in several instalments. If you chose to take our insurance or book a flight with PMGY then these must be paid for (in full) at the time of booking.


Payments can be made directly through our website using all major debit and credit cards. We will outline instructions to make payment in our email communication with you. Please note credit card payments are subject to a 5% additional fee to cover the bank charges that PMGY incur.



PMGY provide participants with the opportunity to contribute towards our Triple Carbon Offset Scheme. This not only helps eliminate your carbon footprint but helps the planet with a positive contribution every time you fly. The Triple Offset Idea for volunteers in Sri Lanka works as follows -


🇰🇪 Kenya - 51 mango trees are planted in Kenya. These are capable of absorbing the total carbon emissions for a volunteer trip to Sri Lanka and also help provide a sustainable income for local farmers.


🇮🇳 India - 80 days of access to a solar cooker are provided to a family in India. This means the family don't have to spend on firewood and thus reduce their dependence on trees.


🇺🇸 USA - 1.25kg of rescued meals are provided to the homeless in the USA. This recycles wasted food reduces methane emission from food waste which is equivalent to 1lb of CO2 emissions.


This optional add-on can be added during the online application process or can even be added on at a later date. The offset platform is provided by our charity, the PMGY Foundation and ensures that 100% of contributions are put towards high impact projects around the world.