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Sri Lanka Elephant & Leopard Conservation

  • In Brief
  • The Project
  • What to Expect
  • Reviews
  • Gallery
  • Extras
  • Dates & Costs
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Frontier Partner Projects

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Discover Sri Lanka, a glittering jewel of an island nestled in the aquamarine waters of the Indian Ocean. Help in the protection of some of Sri Lanka's most secretive and striking inhabitants. The fertile jungles of Sri Lanka are home to herds of wild elephants and the enigmatic leopard; while the elephants can be heard crashing through the undergrowth, the latter are notoriously hard to track. Their habitats are at risk, and with both species occupying large territories, their numbers have consequently fallen significantly. This project gives you the chance to enjoy this exotic and dazzling location whilst collecting data that will aid in the conservation of these rare and beautiful animals.



  • Help conserve the rare & beautiful leopard
  • Explore lush & mysterious Sri Lanka
  • Make lifelong friends


  • Minimum age of 18 years
Community Emergency Hotel Meals Terrestrial Wildlife
Location Sri Lanka
Activities Behaviour surveys - elephants & leopards
Liaising with the locals
Monitoring movements
Transport Volunteers must make their own way to project site
Taken by car between accommodation & project site
Accommodation Shared volunteer lodge

Before you go Pre-departure support
Travel & medical advice & documentation
Equipment advice
Discounted medical kit
Free Frontier t-shirt
In-country Accommodation
Local orientation
Project training
Project equipment & materials
In-country emergency support
24-hour international HQ back-up


Before the large scale destruction of Sri Lanka's previously flourishing forests, leopards existed successfully across the island. However a combination of significant factors, such as poaching for fur and habitat destruction, as well as persecution by local communities, has resulted in their steady decline. Although leopards are highly adaptable and able to live close to human settlements, elephants are not, and their population levels have continued to fall at a worrying rate. Years of civil unrest in the country have largely hampered conservation efforts, particularly in the country's national parks and other regions. There is an agreement amongst researchers and conservationists that more data must be collected in order to instigate effective protective measures, which is why this programme is ultimately so essential and relevant. Join this project and help ensure a brighter future for these wonderful creatures.


The work that you will be carrying out on this project is highly varied. You will be participating in activities that represent efforts to discover more about the behaviour of elephants and leopards, in order to protect them more effectively. You will have the chance to monitor and investigate their movements using various methods, surveying tracks and liaising with local people. All of these tasks will be carried out in the dramatic forest environment of this exotic region of Sri Lanka.

Work programmes are flexible and detailed project schedules are agreed with the research coordinator on arrival.  

Volunteers should be prepared for the heat and humidity of tropical jungles and be willing to walk up to 15km per day. You will be trained in the skills you need to conduct the fieldwork. The project staff will prepare each group for their fieldwork. They will explain to you the research methods and the goals of the research.

You will be in teams of up to 9 volunteers plus staff. Your activities broadly fall into two categories: Elephant Research and Leopard and Biodiversity Research. They will range from tank and fence monitoring to transect work to elephant damage surveys to data entry, from wildlife observations and birding to working on the leopard project. We endeavour to make sure that every team member participates in each research activity at least once. In many cases you will be travelling to remote sites for these activities.

A typical daily itinerary may consist of early morning bird surveying before breakfast, followed by elephant and leopard transects out in the jungle before returning to the security of our stationary observation posts as darkness falls.

You'll find your team to be a fun, dynamic mix of ages and experiences, with members who all share a passion about travelling in developing countries and saving endangered life. Your staff will be young, friendly individuals who are highly experienced in their field.


Upon arrival at Colombo airport you will make your own way to a local guesthouse 30 minutes away using our easy to follow instructions. You will then be collected the following morning by a friendly representative from the project team before making your way out to the project site. Once on the project all travel will be included; you will be transported via car between your accommodation and the project site. Please aim to arrive and depart on Sunday.  


Depending on the number of participants at the time of your visit you will be stationed at one of the two field sites operating in the region. Both camps are located close to the Wasgamuwa National Park. As a result elephants and other wildlife often visit the camp and on numerous occasions sloth bear and leopard have been spotted in the vicinity. Accommodation will be shared, either in large dormitory-style lodges or sharing a room between 4 people. Both sites have a dining/meeting shed, a kitchen, a water supply and modern toilets. One of the sites has electricity while the other is reliant upon solar power.

Your first night (Sunday) will be spent in a local guesthouse close to the airport, the cost of which is not included in the cost of your project.


The food that is provided is simple and nutritious and consists largely of rice, vegetables, beans and noodles, all of which are purchased locally in order to help support the local economy. Luxuries such as chocolate, peanut butter and drinking chocolate are only available from some of the nearby towns, so make sure you stock up before heading to the field! Also, with luck you'll be invited to local feasts and festivals – a great way to meet locals and enjoy local culture. Exploring the colourful and bustling markets that happen daily is another great way to sample Sri Lankan delicacies. The staple diet in Sri Lanka is rice which is usually served with curry, which varies regionally. Many of the herbs and vegetables that are served are believed to have medicinal "ayurvedic" properties by Sri Lankans. Most desserts are made with coconut milk, and this ingredient is also incorporated into savoury treats such as pittu, which is rice flour and coconut cooked in bamboo. Another simple and nutritious food you might like to try is "hoppers", which are plain or egg fritters.

In October 2012, I spent two and a half weeks volunteering with Frontier after hearing about the ...

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I volunteered on the Sri Lanka Leopard and Elephant conservation project for three weeks in Septe...

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Amazing wildlife, fantastic surroundings!  | 8 Feb 2014
Tuk Tuks, mountain trains, public buses, haggling locals, scorching heat, crazy humidity, amazing...

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I had the most amazing time  | 30 Sep 2013
I volunteered for three weeks in September, and I had the most amazing time. I learnt immeasurabl...

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Volunteering for Elephant Welfare  | 8 Oct 2012
  First of all I would like to thank you, your team of people for the welcome, their kin...

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Great Time in Sri Lanka  | 11 Aug 2012
  I just wanted to send an email to thank you again for taking me on board volunteering ...

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A Unique Opportunity  | 31 Jul 2012
  I decided to come to Sri Lanka for an opportunity to see elephants in the wild, which ...

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A Note from the Jungle  | 5 Jan 2012
  A Note from the Jungle   The street(s) of Hettipola are a far cry from th...

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Stunning scenery  | 10 Dec 2009
I loved working in the forest on my project as it was something I never thought I would get to do...

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All of the camps are very remote so forget going down to the local pub in your spare time. Instead you will enjoy plenty of evenings spent relaxing around a roaring campfire, under a sky lit up by millions of stars and filled with the calls of exotic tropical animals. In your spare time you can explore Sri Lanka's lush and mysterious satinwood, ebony and ironwood forests, where you will find a plethora of fascinating creatures such as exotic species of deer, wild boar, and even tigers and leopards. Delve into the human culture of this diverse island and explore the lifestyle of the indigenous forest people, or lose yourself in one of the fascinating local markets. Discover the awe inspiring remnants of the ancient Buddhist culture. A range of adventure and cultural activities like visits to remote villages, canopy tours, and river rafting are available. Call us for prices!


2 weeks £ 879

Extra week £ 449


Every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month. Please arrive on the Sunday as you will be collected from your guesthouse by the project staff on the Monday. Please aim to depart on the Sunday following the completion of your project.  


From 2 weeks

This project is available throughout the Christmas period


Before you go

  • Pre-departure support
  • Travel & medical advice & documentation
  • Equipment advice
  • Discounted medical kit
  • Free Frontier t-shirt


  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Local orientation
  • Project training
  • Project equipment & materials
  • In-country emergency support
  • 24-hour international HQ back-up


Nearest airport(s): Colombo Bandaranaike Apt (CMB)



Flights are not included in our project costs. However, Frontier have partnered with an experienced and professional team of travel experts to help our volunteers find the best flight deals for their trips with Frontier. This travel specialist operates in the tailor-made, long haul multi-stop travel market, arranging complex airfares and transfers for independent travellers. They provide expertise, security and a vast product range along with a Travel Butler service which is a single point of contact and support whilst you are overseas.


For fast, efficient and up-to-date visa advice please contact our recommended visa consultancy partner:

Depending on your destination country and your country of origin, you might require a visa. Please see the appropriate country consular website for details or contact our affiliate visa consultancy service. Please note that your visa will usually start on the date that you enter the destination country regardless of when it was issued. Please check with the relevant embassy or high commission. If you are purchasing your visa or paying entry/exit fees in-country you will probably need to pay in US Dollars. If you have any questions please consult the relevant embassy or high commission. Please check the visa information regularly, as changes often happen without warning.


You'll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the project. You won't be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you're covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave the UK to the day you return. It's also best to get your travel insurance at the same time as paying the deposit for your project. Depending on your policy, this will cover you for any unexpected cancellations.

Your insurance should include the following:

  • Medical cover, including medical emergencies and medical evacuations (up to USD$3,000,000 / GBP£2,000,000);
  • Personal liability (up to USD$1,500,000 / GBP£1,000,000);
  • Cancellation and curtailment of your trip (up to the value of your project contribution).

If you are going to be scuba diving you should get coverage for scuba diving up to 30m, including hyperbaric therapy treatment (unlimited). You should consider obtaining insurance to cover you for any additional activities which you plan to do during, before, or after your Frontier project. We recommend that you obtain cover for your baggage and personal effects.

Frontier Partner Projects and Frontier group projects are run in partnership with in-country NGOs, small community based organisations, local research institutes, academic organisations and conservation agencies. Project descriptions and information are supplied directly by our partners or field staff and are accurate at time of publishing.

We aim to keep information up to date and accurate, however, the nature of our projects and in particular the fact that they are constantly evolving and developing in response to changing needs means that project activities, travel schedules, tour itineraries and daily timetables can change overnight and without notice.

To apply for this project, or to register your interest, just click on the orange "Apply Now!" button at the top of the menu. Fill out and submit a short application form and then one of our advisors will give you a call back to answer any questions and to progress your application if you wish to continue.

There is no obligation when making an application, and you do not need to pay anything at this point.