6 month Elephant Internship in Thailand

Spend 6 months in the lush mountainous region of Northern Thailand around Chiang Mai, and contribute to conserving the Asian elephant by living and working with traditional elephant-keeping communities.

The population of Asian elephants and their habitat is rapidly declining. With less than 1,000 left in the wild in Thailand and around 3,000 in captivity, this is one of very few viable alternatives to the unshakable reality of their domesticated future within tourist camps.

The focus of the internship is on ensuring that these captive elephants are successfully reintroduced into protected forest. Your contribution will help the conservation of this beautiful animal species, by providing the funding and hands-on support needed to keep this project going. The overall goal of the project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts.

This internship consists of 3 aspects – community (teaching), plant biodiversity (with an emphasis on elephant foraging) and elephants. Each of these projects are run independently, but are integrated and highly relevant to each other. The community project consists of teaching English within the community and to the elephant keepers (mahouts), as well as following a program that supports community efforts to reduce their financial dependence on their elephants.

The plant biodiversity project involves researching elephant foraging habits and working towards formulating a foraging guide based on the observations made on our elephants.

Other biodiversity projects may include surveying biodiversity in the forests around the village, heading up night hikes to look for gibbons, porcupines, and other nocturnal animals, and identifying unique birds and insects. The elephant project consists of leading elephant health checks, studying the behaviour of our herd, and educating other volunteers about Asian elephants.

While each project has many established aspects, interns are encouraged to develop their own ideas and introduce new aspects to these projects.

Although you will be able to enjoy hiking with the elephants 5 days of the week, the rotation of the internship means your responsibilities will shift during the course of your stay.

After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for affiliated partner organisations in Thailand or around the world. Field work positions can be paid or unpaid, range in duration from one month to one year, and availability varies.

Pre-Apply Now

What to Expect?

Your time will be split between morning hikes into the forest following the elephants and afternoon lectures to learn more about elephant keeping. Staff will guide you through your training as you learn how to assess your elephant’s health and conduct surveys in the forest.
Expect costs of approximately $300/wk. 24 wk minimum. May fluctuate with currency exchange.
    •    Pre-departure support and discounted services
    •    24-hour emergency phone
    •    Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
    •    Arrival orientation
    •    Long term experienced staff
    •    Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
    •    All meals (unless otherwise stated in your field manual)
    •    Welcome meeting
    •    Location orientation
    •    All necessary project training by experienced staff
    •    All necessary project equipment and materials
    •    24-hour in-country support
    •    Teamwork and leadership experience
    •    First Aid & CPR training and certification
    •    Living and working within an indigenous community
    •    Comprehensive training program that encompasses theory lectures, group study and field practice and a weekly review with your mentor
    •    Weekly evaluation
    •    Final evaluation
    •    Certification and summary of training and experience received
    •    Confidential professional reference
    •    Transportation (as required for project work)

You will stay in basic accommodation within a traditional Karen village. As this is a traditional community, you should expect to adapt and show respect for the environment and culture in which you will be living as well as act a role model for both locals and volunteers. Over time you will become truly immersed as you learn the local language and cultural traditions.

During your first 6 weeks you will work alongside other volunteers and learn about the day to day running of the project. During the following six weeks you will go through training from previous interns/staff and learn about each of the 3 projects incorporated in the internship.
The final 12 weeks will be spent running and organizing each intern project for one month each. Your internship will allow you to work closely with your elephant herd, their mahouts, and the community in an effort to promote sustainable eco-tourism.


  • Program ID: # 2515
  • duration:
    More than 3 Months
  • location:
    Chiang Mai
    18° 48' 40.7916" N, 98° 55' 34.68" E
  • Fitness level:
    Moderately Fit
    Very Fit
  • Closest Airport:
    Chiang Mai (CNX)
  • Costs From:
    Over $3000
  • Program Type:
    Environmental & Wildlife Programs
  • Click Here for More Info

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