The Surin Project needs VOLUNTEERS

- Walk with the Elephants -

An absolute MUST when visiting Thailand!

  1. To promote responsible tourism and ask tourists traveling to Asia to visit ‘elephant friendly’ projects and sanctuaries where elephants are treated with kindness and respect

  1. To work on the ground with specially selected projects in need of financial assistance by funding food, medical care, buildings such as an elephant hospital, enclosures, water pond or bathing pools, or towards the purchase of land

  1. To offer financial support for rescues and co-ordinate relief for elephants in emergency situations

  1. To make a long term commitment to protect the future of the Asian elephant and support projects preserving their natural habitat

Everyday in elephant camps throughout Thailand, hundreds of elephants are forced to perform in circuses, paint pictures, give trekking rides, or they are taken to the city streets or beaches to beg to tourists for money.

Even though many of these activities appear harmless, they are often managed through abusive, pain inflicted training techniques, and elephants spend their lives in misery performing for the tourist dollar.

Here at EARS we feel it is important to raise awareness and give practical and impartial advice to visitors to Asia wishing to enjoy an experience with an elephant.

Please take a good look through our website, including our dark side of tourism page, and learn about the abuse inflicted to elephants and how YOU can help bring about change. If tourists insist on spending their money on a gentle alternative such as walking elephants in the forest, or seeing them bathe in a pond or river, this will slowly change the tide for elephant tourism, but not harm the livelihoods that so many mahouts rely on.

You could opt to visit one of the few true sanctuaries on our where to visit page, to enjoy seeing elephants interact naturally. Or, if you are in an area too far to visit a sanctuary, visit a local elephant camp, BUT please ensure you make an informed decision about how you spend your money for your elephant experience.

Please read our Guide - What to Know Before your Go which gives you information on what to look for. Photos on the dark side of tourism page are a good visual reference too.

Thank you for joining us in our fight to help the elephants and mahouts in Asia.

the asian elephant needs our help...

  1. The Asian elephant is classed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN Red List (1994) and protected under CITES - The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species

  1. Threats include poaching for ivory and elephant calves, illegal logging, deforestation for agriculture, and tourism

  1. Logging was banned in 1989 and elephant tourism developed

  1. Elephants DO NOT perform because they are talented, they endure years of abusive training and a life in chains for public entertainment


Celebrities, wildlife rescue directors, sanctuary owners, vets and other high profile animal supporters have come together to promote awareness for elephants used in tourist entertainment throughout Asia and the protection and conservation of elephants in the wild. View our awareness campaign HERE... and tune into Nat Geo Wild to find out more!

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Our latest research trip took us to hot spot tourist destinations in southern Thailand, and the annual Elephant Round Up in Surin, North East Thailand.


The dark side of elephant tourismwhy_we_help/Pages/the_dark_side.htmlwhy_we_help/Pages/the_dark_side.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0
sign up

Volunteering on this program is a unique adventure of a lifetime. Live and work side by side with the elephants, walk with them to the forest, bathe in the river, live and breathe the life of a mahout.

Contact Wills and Kirsty for more details on how YOU can help make a difference:

Tourists traveling to Asia have the power to influence change

did you know?

our mission

In February 2012, EARS successfully retired Sombo from giving rides at a temple in Phnom Penh. From 2012 - 2014 EARS funded Sombo’s intensive medical program to heal her painful abscessed feet, and we are currently in negotiations for her long term retirement.

Photo: Peter Yuen Photography

Happy rescued elephants enjoy a playful afternoon in the muddy river at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand

This short film has been produced by Mahouts Foundation to be a tool for tourists visiting Thailand, and hotels and tour companies promoting elephant activities in their holiday packages.

  1. -The Surin Project, a wonderful project in the North East of Thailand, is committed to improving living conditions of Asian elephants and providing sustainable economic revenue for their mahouts (handlers) in the local community.

‘The Gossip Girls’ - Wassana, Pang Dow and Lotus on their morning walk at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Thailand http://www.blesele.orghttp://www.blesele.orgshapeimage_18_link_0