Help manage an elephant sanctuary and receive career development opportunities AND get career training from Conservation Careers!
Kick start your career on this multi-faceted internship in Thailand’s stunning Chiang Mai region. Teach English to community members, assist with plant biodiversity studies with a focus on elephant foraging, and contribute to the rehabilitation of elephants which have been rescued from tourist camps. Discover the fascinating culture and lush mountains in this Northern region of Thailand in your free time. Sign up here today and get 12 months of Lion membership with Conservation Careers included.
Travel to 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.
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 to children at the school, local women’s groups, your homestay family and to the elephant keepers (mahouts), as well as supporting 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 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.
All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. Our partner has been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.
After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for our selected partner in Thailand or in other countries around the world where they operate. Field work positions can be paid or unpaid, range in duration from one month to one year, and availability varies.
Our Award-winning Partner
Conservation Careers has teamed up with an award-winning, mission-driven organisation with a team of passionate experts across the globe who will make your experience a truly unforgettable one.
Founded in 1998, they run programs in 21 locations, in 13 countries around the world, each aligned to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as well as the objectives of local partners. They welcome participants from all around the world and help facilitate their development into global citizens. This is how they achieve their mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.
Their commitment to running high-quality sustainable development and experiential education programs has earned them recognition from numerous organizations such as Panthera, the Seychelles Parks & Gardens Authority, as well as Stanford, NYU, Duke, and Ohio State.
If you register your interest below, you’ll put you in touch with our partner to take the booking and to plan your trip!
To see all our Conservation Careers Internship opportunities, please click here.
“”As an intern on this program I’ve had what I can genuinely say to be some of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. Living and working closely with the Karen people of Huay Pakoot village, I’ve gained firm friends, learnt a great deal about Karen culture, helped the villagers sustain their environmentally sound traditional way of living, been involved with the education of the village children, and fallen in love with this remote, lush and stunningly beautiful part of Thailand.” – Murray Robertson (United Kingdom)
Location – Chiang Mai
Life on the Internship
During your first 6 weeks, you will work alongside other volunteers and learn about the day to day running of the project. Your days will be split between morning hikes into the Chiang Mai forest with the elephants and their mahouts. In the afternoons you will return to base where there will be lectures on elephant keeping and other training needed to assess the elephant’s health and conduct surveys in the forest. The following 6 weeks will see you go through training sessions with previous interns/staff where you will learn more about the 3 aspects incorporated into this internship.
The final 12 weeks of your internship will be spent running and organising each intern project for one month each. Our elephant conservation internship will allow you to work closely with our elephant herd, their mahouts and the local community in an effort to promote sustainable eco-tourism.
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 the 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.
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, we are one of very few viable alternatives to the unshakable reality of their domesticated future within tourist camps.
Please note, we operate serious projects and internship programmes and as such we do not partake in riding elephants or having them demonstrate skills learnt from being trained.
The focus of the internship is on ensuring that these captive elephants are successfully reintroduced into a 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.
Increasing Employability: Pre Departure Program Training:
Our programs are not only life-changing experiences but are also designed to help participants increase their employability. We have developed a curriculum to be completed prior to arrival in the country in order to ensure that more time is dedicated to program work once you commence your volunteer program.
Eight weeks prior to your start date, you will complete the following online courses in preparation for your in-country program:
PRE-DEPARTURE ORIENTATION (1 hour)
PROGRAM SPECIFIC TRAINING (1 – 5 hours)
WILDLIFE CONSERVATION COURSE (10 – 15 hours)
LEADERSHIP COURSE (10 – 15 hours)
CAREERS COURSE (10 – 15 hours)
In order to obtain a certificate for the Wildlife Conservation, Leadership and Careers courses which are endorsed by the University of Richmond and UNC Charlotte, you will need to complete quizzes & assignments and will be given 4 weeks post program to submit your work.
If you are looking to travel in less than 8 weeks from now, you will still complete the course however this will be done in country and all content will need to be downloaded before arrival.
Health & Hygiene:
The work we contribute to across the globe remains important and new measures allow our participants to continue to join our programs and continue impacting positively on their world and the communities we work with. Changes to our existing protocols have been made by our health and hygiene team to strengthen our health and hygiene protocols and ensure that international standard safeguards are in place to protect our participants, staff and host communities. Please inquire for more information on the protocols.
How This Project Makes a Difference
Elephants can be very expensive to care for, and generally viewed as private property by locals used as a means of generating income, forced to make money through tourism because of a lack of viable alternatives.
However, as an unregulated industry, elephant tourism can be an ugly business. Elephants require a very specific environment, socially, mentally and physically to be able to thrive. With a huge increase in the demand for tourist camps elephants are deprived of the need of their self-medicating diet, highly migratory urges to move large distances, complex social interactions and brain stimulation. This can in turn lead to shocking health repercussions for the elephants.
Our volunteering with the local community aims to provide an alternative for elephants outside of camps so our villager’s elephants can live healthy lives in the forest that will ensure their long term conservation and survival.
BONUS! Conservation Career Kick-Starter online training programme (worth £295)
Do you want to spend your career helping wildlife to flourish, but are feeling a little lost, confused or disillusioned?
Start your career in wildlife conservation with a unique programme of training, support community & jobs from Conservation Careers!
The Conservation Career Kick-Starter is a proven step-by-step system to get clear, get ready, and get hired as a professional conservationist.
Whether you’re at university and planning your next steps, a graduate in the job hunt or working in an unrelated job but interested to switch into conservation, this course is designed to help you.
After going through the course, you’ll have created a personal career plan which will give you confidence in your job hunt and will make everything quicker, simpler and more fun!
All you need to do is register your interest in the project below, and if you choose to make a booking we’ll save a place for you on the Kick-Starter when you get back from your placement.
Included with the Kick-Starter is a year’s full-access to the world’s biggest conservation job board with over 15,000 jobs, plus access to our private online support community, CC Pro.
About Conservation Careers
Conservation Careers has teamed up a family-run organisation with an amazing culture and an awesome team of people across the world who are passionate experts in their chosen field and will make your experience a truly unforgettable one (in a good way).
Their award-winning projects receive over 2000 participants every year, and we’re proud to say that the vast majority of them describe their experience with us as ‘life changing’. Our approval rate from over 20 000 participants since 1997 is over 95%.
A key component of the success of their community development and conservation projects is the participants who join our programs. Opportunities include high impact volunteering from one week and up, internships for those looking for career development opportunities, Challenges that allow a one week adventure all for a good cause and a range of programs for school groups and younger volunteers.