Volunteer in Zambia

Volunteer with the Elephant Orphanage Project in Zambia for an experience you will never forget!

Nestled in the Zambian bush, 15 orphaned elephants are slowly regaining their confidence after their traumatic separations from their herds. At delicately young ages the elephants at the Elephant Orphanage Project (EOP) experienced trauma that will shape their future; trauma that is now ingrained in their memories. With love, patience and dedication from their keepers, the elephants have the opportunity to reclaim their wild lives as they embark upon an extensive rehabilitation programme that aims to release them back into their natural environment.

Adjusting to life without an experienced herd to learn from is not easy, but EOP is the helping hand these orphans need to start their journey to recovery and be wild once again.

The EOP teams work tirelessly to guarantee the highest standard of care for the orphans at their two facilities:
Lilayi Elephant Nursery based just outside Lusaka, where the youngest, milk-dependent orphans are cared for and the Kafue Release Facility based in Kafue National Park, where the elephants are transferred when they are old enough to be weaned from milk. Here they can explore the wild surroundings of the national park and integrate into the larger release herd, which currently consists of 12 elephants.

From veterinary procedures and behaviour observations, to milk preparation and boma (enclosure) cleaning, the teams have a long list of tasks to work through, day and night, to ensure the elephants’ welfare. With so much to do, extra help is warmly welcomed.

How you can get involved

EOP operates an exclusive volunteer programme that runs annually from April through to November. Volunteers can apply for a one month placement at either Lilayi Elephant Nursery or the Kafue Release Facility. The project’s mission to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphaned elephants back into the wild is achieved only when strict protocols are followed and attention to detail is applied to every aspect of the project, so volunteers are carefully selected to ensure that the right person is chosen. With such a unique programme in place it has become one of the most sought after organisations to ethically volunteer with elephants.

Lilayi Elephant Nursery accepts two volunteers each month based on a successful application process. Volunteers primary focus will be to conduct the project’s bespoke Behaviour Observation Study which involves walking out into the bush with the elephants – truly a once in a lifetime experience. Additional tasks include milk preparation, cleaning the elephant boma, collecting browse from the bush for the elephants to feed on during lunchtimes and evenings, photography and staff capacity building.

Kafue Release Facility accepts three volunteers each month and assesses applications based on specialist skills. With a larger herd at this facility, a greater focus is placed on the Behaviour Observation Study with two volunteers per month accepted onto the Research placement, which offers a spectacular opportunity to observe the elephants out in the bush. One volunteer per month is also accepted onto the Media and Marketing placement at this facility utilising their existing skills and knowledge to promote the wonderful work of EOP through social media, blogging, PR, fundraising, video and photography. This placement also offers volunteers the special experience of walking with the elephants in the bush to capture their natural magnificence and create beautiful stories that will touch the hearts of people around the world.
Make memories to remember forever

“Stepping out of your familiar routine and making a difference to the lives of orphaned elephants may be one of the most rewarding and valuable things you’ll ever do during your lifetime. In the short time spent reading this article, another vulnerable elephant has become orphaned. Right now, they need our help – and yours – more than ever. I am thankful that orphaned elephants are being rescued by this great organisation and that they will get another chance to live a life as a wild elephant. I will always support this cause, even more so now that I have witnessed some of the work of this special team. The passion for the elephants I have felt here is incredible.” Ellen Greve Volunteer, April 2017

Find out more about how to apply for a volunteer placement by clicking here

N.B. All walking with elephant experiences conform to strict safety protocols and constitute distance viewing with supervision.

THE ELEPHANT ORPHANAGE PROJECT IS A PROJECT OF GAME RANGERS INTERNATIONAL, ESTABLISHED BY THE DAVID SHEPHERD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION, IN CLOSE COLLABORATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE AND INTERNATIONAL FUND FOR ANIMAL WELFARE.