Volunteering with elephants, a rewarding and fun experience!

International volunteers play an important role year round at Millennium Elephant Foundation contributing to the daily running and future development. We welcome volunteers from all over the world, with all kinds of skills and interests. Through the different elements of the MEF volunteer project, voluntourists have a unique experience, gaining grass root entry into the local community, working with the local people in improving education and promoting MEF’s important work in achieving improved elephant care and conservation, protecting not just our own herd but elephants all over Sri Lanka!

The primary focus of MEF volunteers is the daily care and management of the elephants living with us. Upon arrival you will be allocated an elephant to work with and will help with its daily care and if necessary medical treatment. Working under the direction of your elephant’s mahout and with other volunteers, you will be required to assist with its feeding, and bathing throughout your stay; and hopefully build a special relationship with your elephant! This requires dedicated care and responsibility.

MEF Volunteers

MEF Volunteer Placement:
During your placement we need you to use your initiative to develop your own ideas or follow up those of previous volunteers. Our co-ordinators are here to help you work towards improving MEF and promoting the foundation's projects both locally and internationally. The project is what it is today because of the hard work, drive and dedication of previous volunteers, so please do not take anything for granted- including the difference that you could make!

About MEF
Volunteer at MEF
Youngest ever volunteers
There are 4 main aspects to volunteer work here at MEF that we ask all volunteers to get involved in, they are:
  • MEF The daily care and treatment of your elephant as well as the administration, fundraising, research, campaigning and museum maintenance needed to support the foundation and our C2C project aimed at improving the lives of elephants and people in Habarana.
  • Eco-farm Volunteers will work alongside our gardener growing many fruits, vegetables and medicinal herbs that will be used in elephant care and enrichment, in the restaurant and sold by you in the fruit shop!
  • MVU When available, volunteers will be invited to assist the vets on visits to sick elephants and to the Peraheras (religious parades) the MVU vets supervise. (Please note these visits cannot be guaranteed during your stay)
  • Teaching We have set up informal after school clubs attended by children and adults of all ages, for a few hours a week volunteers can help these children improve their English skills and to raise awareness of conservation issues. Teaching qualifications are not necessary.

I spent 3 of the most amazing weeks of my life at MEF.
Grace Black, New Zealand 2015

Expected of volunteers:

Volunteers must be able to work independently within the guidelines of the project rota. Patience and perseverance are essential, enthusiasm and a willingness to accept another culture will mean you get the most from your volunteering experience.

As a reward for all your hard work you will receive a commemorative certificate, printed on recycled elephant poo paper, the chance to receive an elephant shower and ride or elephant walk experience from your new best friend, along with memories to last a life time!

As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to experience and immerse yourself in a different culture. Undoubtedly you will face the day-to-day challenges that are Sri Lanka, but overall you'll be greeted by the warm Sri Lankan smile and hospitality, and struck by the sheer beauty of your surroundings. You will have two days off a week depending on your workload, giving you ample opportunity to explore Sri Lanka's rich cultural heritage on your own, or with other volunteers.

MEF - volunteers coach trip.
MEF - volunteers on beach.
MEF day trips.
Accommodation Details:

Accommodation is onsite surrounded by palm trees and overlooking paddy fields. Mosquito nets, clean linen and towels are provided. The bungalow and cabins are maintained by volunteers and our Bungalow Keeper Abey.

Your volunteer placement fee includes three local style meals a day, which are provided at the Colonial House, lunch is a vegetarian meal. There is also a private lounge at Club Concept opposite MEF. Do not expect the range of food available that you would find in the capital (Colombo), however the food will be fresh, nutritious and delicious - food that you will be helping to grow in the Eco-garden! and wherever possible special dietary requirements will be accommodated.

The Bungalow - Bedrooms are shared facilities with bunk beds with en-suite western bathroom facilities, there is also two refreshing outdoor showers.There is a basic kitchen area with sink, kettle, water filter and fridge freezer, washing bowls for your clothes and a lounge area with books to read and free WIFI. The Jungle Cabins - Five cabins that can each sleep three people. All cabins features a bunk bed and a single bed. The jungle cabin facility has its own shower and toilet block attached. Volunteers in these room will also have access to the bungalow for the facilities there.Please be prepared for occasional power cuts and water shortages, Ant trails, that are all part of the fun here in Sri Lanka!

The people here have helped me feel so at home for the past four weeks.
Hannah Selway, England 2015

What's Included:
  • Accommodation onsite, 3 meals a day that are cooked by our trained onsite chef
  • MEF Volunteer T-Shirt
  • Airport Transfers - free of charge if you are staying 3 weeks or more! (Transfer can be arranged if you have a shorter stay: Rs 10,000 for round-trip, or Rs 6000 one way. Additional costs apply for Colombo or Negombo pick-up/drop-off.)
  • Tour of our onsite elephant dung paper factory
  • Towels, Linen and Mosquito nets
  • Kettle, Fridge Freezer, Water Filter, Clothes Washing Bowls (Hand Wash)
  • Movie Nights using the MEF projector screen
  • Quiz Night once a week
  • Volunteer discounts and exclusive trips around the island for both work and play
  • Certificate of your placement and we can provide a reference for future employers
For Qualified Vets wanting to volunteer we can acquire the relevant licenses to practice.ree
Volunteer Placement Fees:
  • 1 day program with meals - Rs 8500
  • 1 day/1 night with 3 meals - Rs 9000
  • 1 week - Rs 50,000
  • 2 weeks - Rs 87,500
  • 3 weeks - Rs 131,250
  • 4 weeks - Rs 168,000
  • 5 weeks - Rs 210,000
  • 6 weeks - Rs 252,000

Longer placements please email - volunteer@millenniumelephantfoundation.com

Please Note:
Visas must now be applied for online in advance of travel.

A deposit of 25% of the total placement fee needs to be paid 4 weeks prior to your start date. Upon arrival at MEF you will be asked to pay the remaining balance of your volunteer fees. Payment can be made in rupees or in your local currency - but it will be subject to whatever the exchange rate is on that day. By paying on arrival we are cutting out the processing fee that most banks charge for International transfers. (Applicants applying less than 4 weeks in advance will still be welcome and the full payment can be made upon arrival.)

We understand that the volunteer placement fee is a significant sum of money, however, please be assured that the proceeds of your funds go towards the implementation of the volunteer project. As a volunteer you will go far beyond the usual tourist experience and it is your chance to make a real and lasting difference to the community of people and elephants. Whenever you are volunteering it is always better to book direct so that you know 100% of your payment goes to Millennium Elephant Volunteer Services.

Please see our volunteer experiences page, facebook and blog to get an idea of the experiences that you will have! You can also watch this film by NDTV who visited us in 2012 to learn more about our volunteer program!

For more information about Millennium Elephant Volunteer Services, please send an email to volunteer@millenniumelephantfoundation.com

or if you have any questions regarding the program or your stay please call Jade at +94 76 900 8388.
Important Notice
Please note we can not accept volunteers between 11th and 13th June 2018 as we are fully booked.

Please be advised during the Kandy Pera Hera season (July 29 - August 7) there will be fewer elephants at MEF during this time. As the temple owned elephants are called upon to participate in the cultural festivities. The volunteer program will still run as normal, but volunteers may share duties of care of an elephant rather than having their own elephant to work with.