Frequently asked questions
Why are Elephants rented and not bought?
In Sri Lanka, Elephants are mostly seen as a good opportunity to make money. Because of this, owners of elephants rarely sell them, due to large profits they make. In the chance that they do put them up for sale, they are always given a very high price, which is currently way too high for us to even contemplate on.
What happens to the Elephants after their stay at the project?
Apart from Mali, all elephants stay at the project for a limited amount of time. After giving time for the elephants to relieve their minds and bodies, becoming relaxed and heathy, they have to go back to their previous ownership. We know and understand that this is not ideal at all, but we see their stay at the project as a holiday, similar to a working human and their need for vacation, where the elephants are given a break from their daily routine of hard work and given a chance to relax. Another aspect is to support locals as they are dependant on the elephants work to provide for themselves and their families. The money we pay for renting the elephant covers the loss of profit from the owner. This allows both the elephants, and the owners families to benefit from this project. This approach allows us to focus on as many elephants as we possibly can, rather than caring only for the few.
What is a Mahout, and why are they needed?
The Mahout is the only person that is allowed to give commands by the elephant. “A Mahout is an elephant caretaker. When elephants are initially domesticated, they have little knowledge of how to take care for themselves, as they are no longer in the wild. The Mahout is needed to guide the elephant on how to look after themselves, and also how to do the jobs they are made to do. They integrate with the elephants, creating a bond of trust, meaning that the elephants only feel comfortable around people if the Mahout is nearby. The Mahout is the only person that is allowed to give commands by the elephant.
How many Elephants are there currently at the project?
Our project still has very low funding, and is struggling to get more. Because of this, it is very hard to rent elephants. If you come to the project at this stage, you will definitely see Mali, and possibly one more elephant. The more volunteers that dedicate their time and money, the more elephants can be rented and cared for in the future.
Why does the Mahout carry a bull hook, and will it ever be used on the Elephant?
The Mahout carries the bullhook mainly for show, so that local people do not feel threatened by any of the elephants. It is also there for the unlikely event of an emergency. The Mahout is instructed to never use the bullhook on the elephant in the project whatsoever, as that is violence and only causes the elephants to get angry and scared. It is something we wouldn’t want to put any elephants on our project through, as the use of it is due to bring up past trauma. The thought of the use of the bullhook being used sickens us.
When is the best time to go to Sri Lanka?
For the South, Middle (where we are situated) and West of the country, between December and April is the best time. Monsoon season comes around April time and the best weather (rarely dropping below 25 degrees C) usually occurs around January. The North and East is best to visit from May to October.
Will I have time for extra activities?
As the project can be quite repetitive (due to our daily routine being the same every day), we encourage the participation of other trips we can offer. For example, the local waterfall, museums and factories, nearby towns and rural area's and a local school to help the children with learning english. Skipping out on a day of the project is fine, as we will make sure the day before to collect a larger amount of food, meaning the elephants will be unaffected.
Do I need to learn Sinhala?
Everyone at the project speaks English well, especially Myszka being a native Londoner. It will always help to improve your skills in Sinhala if you are to travel the country anymore and staying at a homestay will help you to improve that. It is always nice to learn the native language of the country you are visiting, as the locals will respect your tries, and will often be a fun and comedic experience for them!
Can I read about past volunteers experiences?
Yes, our main page on the website holds some reviews, however if you are still not satisfied then asking any of our previous volunteers featured on our instagram page will surely put your mind at ease. Find the link to our Instagram at the bottom of this page.
Is there internet access/post office?
Yes, both are available. We reccomend to purchase a Sri Lankan SIM card upon arrival to the country, as our WiFi is not the best, and we are at the prokect location for a while. If you do not purchase one upon arrival, we can help you to obtain one in the local town. In this town there is also a post office with international dispatching.
Is Sri Lanka Safe?
Like anywhere in the world, there are dangers, but being such a new country to such large amounts of tourism, Sri Lanka is very safe. The respect for internationals and tourists is very high. People are always happy to help and give advice, and we here are always available to help, even after you leave the project.
Do I need travel insurance?
It is always good to get travel insurance when traveling to Asia. Make sure to find the best deal for you at your countries best provider.
Do I need a Visa?
Yes you do. To apply for a 30 day toursit Visa, please visit this website - http://www.eta.gov.lk/slvisa/. If your visit to the country is longer than this, please visit your local Sri Lankan Embassy. If this is not possible then you can extend your online 30 day E-Visa when in the country.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.