This winter, travelers with a taste for adventure (and elephants!) can journey to Thailand to work with local communities to protect the environment. ProWorld Thailand offers one and two week voluntourism packages in Chiang Mai, an ancient city founded in 1296, which involves conservation and reforestation work done in partnership with the Thai Elephant Home.
ProWorld Thailand works with the Thai Elephant Home, a sustainable and environmentally-friendly elephant camp in Chiang Mai that supports sick elephants, old elephants and unemployed mahuts (elephant guides). The home tries to provide a better opportunity for the mahuts who are often forced to travel with their elephant to the cities to make money.
The Thai Elephant Home and ProWorld Thailand’s Conservation and Reforestation Project seek to reinvest the profits from the Thai Elephant Home to restore the local environment and works in partnership with the local community. Local land that is adjacent to forested areas at risk of encroachment is purchased with profits from the Thai Elephant Home. With support from volunteers working with ProWorld Thailand, this land is then protected from fire and encroachment by planting native vegetation.
With support from the local community, the land is protected from excessive use, but still open for community members to access for food and other products. The conservation work is supported by educational programs at the local school and advocacy work with local tourist businesses to encourage the businesses to change their habits and support conservation measures.
ProWorld Thailand volunteers live at the Thai Elephant home and work side by side with the mahouts and elephants each day. Volunteers support the business and outreach work by working with tourists, updating the website and creating marketing materials. In addition, volunteers participate in activities such as tree planting, creating firebreaks, maintaining the local environment, and supporting environmental education and advocacy. During free time, volunteers have the opportunity to explore the history and culture of Chiang Mai including visiting Buddhist temples and local markets.
ProWorld Thailand’s volunteer programs start the first Saturday of every month (year round) and include accommodations, meals, project funding, staff support, cultural excursions, introductory Thai classes, local transportation, and travel insurance. The program fee is $1,445 for one week or $1,735 for two weeks. For more information please visit www.myproworld.org.