Program Details
2 Weeks From $ 4,145
Code: THCM0702U

Conservation & Community: Collaboration and Conflict in Saving Thailand's Elephants

This unique course offers you a rare view into the ways that communities and conservationists perceive and react to the realities of saving elephants in one region of Thailand.


Program Information

The population of Asian elephants and their habitat is rapidly declining and there is an urgent need for successful approaches to saving this important member of our ecosystem. GVI offers one of a few viable alternatives to the reality and without our help Thai elephants will soon exist only as domesticated animals confined to tourist camps. Through exploration of the areas where conservationists and community members’ goals conflict, you will better understand and be able to advocate for members of both groups to collaborate on a better future for both human and elephant.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

All GVI study abroad programs have a 6 week duration, but students will only be in country conducting field work on community or conservation projects for 2 weeks.

The focus of this program is to ensure that the villagers in Chiang Mai acquire the knowledge and skills needed to run their own sustainable elephant conservation project. The goal is for captive elephants (owned by inhabitants of the village) to be successfully reintegrated in a protected forest maintained by GVI. In addition to the opportunity to view elephants in a more natural environment, you will also be able to contribute to the conservation of this beautiful animal species, by participating in the data collection and maintenance support needed to keep pushing this project forward.

Program Details

GVI Live

25 May RT <a target='_blank'...

RT @mala_mala: What a treat! Guests enjoyed a sighting this morning of the rare Cape clawless otter! 📸Thabisani Buthelezi [...]

25 May For the Duke Engage students...

For the Duke Engage students here in Phang Nga it’s the end of week 2 already! The students have been hard at work,… https://t.co/34dFxMbI33

Posts from the Field

22 Apr The Art/Science of Zoological [...]

Lucy Spelman is one of a handful of veterinarians certified in zoological medicine. She talks about her field and how she [...]

GVI Blog

10 Aug The Educational Value [...]

Classroom learning only teaches you so much. Internships allow for a completely immersive educational experience.

24 Mar 6 Unusual Animals To [...]

Costa Rica is a dynamic country in Central America, known for its magnificent wildlife, stunning coastlines and volcanoes. [...]

Project Life

Your Study Abroad program begins 2 weeks prior to departure, when you'll participate in an online course, getting to know your instructor, GVI international field staff and your classmates, all of whom may come from many different institutions across the U.S. and around the world. A majority of your time abroad will be spent outside the classroom, as you work alongside our staff and community partners to address various challenges in the region that you have discussed during the pre-departure sessions.

You'll leave for your chosen destination prepared for a unique and impactful experience abroad. GVI will meet you at the airport, transport you to our center, provide a comprehensive orientation and help you settle into your housing. You'll have the chance to get to know your surroundings, learn more about GVI's work in Thailand and prepare for a time of reflection, discussion and cultural immersion. You will be staying in your own room, within a homestay environment from a local family in the community.

Upon returning home, you'll continue your online course for further 2 weeks, sharing your insights and planning your involvement in addressing the UN SDG’s in your local community at home.

Project Details

All of GVI’s programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a comprehensive manner, measuring upon which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution. The experiential component of your course is designed to advance GVI’s existing project work and will help our local partners achieve the goals they have set for their communities and enable GVI to continue making a positive and measuring our contribution to the UN SDGs.

Our goal is to educate you about local and global issues, so that you continue to act as an active global citizen after your course is completed, helping to fulfill our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.

Current long-term objectives to which you will be contributing in Chiang Mai:

1. Increasing and promoting the ethical treatment of elephants.
2. Creating a viable self-sustaining eco-tourism program for the village, as well as supporting a stable herd of elephants living naturally in the forested area of the village.
3. Improving standards of living and job opportunities for people in the Huay Pakoot village.
4. Improving sustainable natural resource management in the Huay Pakoot area.

Elephants can be very expensive to care for and are generally viewed as private property by locals. These animals are used as a means of generating income, because villagers are forced to make money through tourism due to a lack of viable alternatives. Elephants require a very specific environment (socially, mentally and physically) to be able to thrive. With a huge increase in the demand for tourist camps, elephants are deprived of the need of their self-medicating diet, highly migratory urges to move large distances, complex social interactions and brain stimulation. These conditions can lead to shocking detrimental health issues for the elephants.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal kit
  • Police or background check (where necessary)
  • Visa costs

Exploration

Participating in a course with GVI not only allows you to participate in programs assisting disadvantaged communities or endangered ecosystems, but it also offers an insider’s glimpse into life the local area. Your time in Chiang Mai could also include excursions, educational workshops around the topics of English, conservation and/or extensive learning about the environment.

Our long-term field staff are a great source of advice, should you want to extend your time in Thailand. If you want to extend your time working on a GVI project in Chiang Mai, join our team doing community development work in Phang Nga, or travel to other areas of the country, we are here to help you make the most of your time abroad. Remember to ask about discounts on local activities and side trips through your association with GVI.

The Team

Thjis Claes

Bird Poject Leader
Meet Thijs, our resident bird expert and project leader. Thijs was first attracted to GVI by the perfect mix of education, wildlife, science and communal living that we offer. He holds a Master in Biology (with a focus on freshwater biodiversity and ecosystem stability) and this knowledge comes in handy while in the field.

Thijs has explored deserts and swamp areas in southern Africa during a group journey, he has completed a Leadership and BST internships at GVI Jalova, and has volunteered for a scientific laboratory, governmental organisation and nature organisation. What is the best part about working for GVI? "Being in close contact with wildlife, the possibility to continuously learn and working in a close team towards valuable educational and sustainability goals."

Danny Guy

Jaguar Project Leader
Meet Danny, our nature loving jaguar project leader! Danny has some extensive volunteer and travel experience, including volunteering at Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa, and travelling to see and experience animals in the wild (South Africa, Kenya, Rawanda, Tansania and Borneo) where him ad his team usually camped in tents with basic equipment. He also completed a wildlife internship at Jalova Tortuguero with GVI and he was especially interested in gaining more hands-on experience through this experience.

He fondly recalls his favourite travel memory: "When volunteering in South Africa, after the day’s work, we were on our way back to our house when the big bull elephant stopped us just before our gate. We decided to watch him for a while as he proceeded to pull down one of the trunks of our fig tree treehouse. Once he’d pulled it down he called the rest of the herd up from the valley below. They stayed around the tree for the rest of the night and we had to drive around the back of our volunteer area and climb over the fence."

Cormac Healy

Base Manager
Meet Cormac, our lovely Base Manager in Jalova, Costa Rica. This Scotsman is a rather eccentric guy and his fantastic sense of humour is one of his most appreciated characteristics. He achieved a Master's degree in History and Politics, and quite evidently can keep his own in any conversation on any topic.

His love for travelling started in his younger years already and since then he has explored New Zealand, Canada, the states, and South Africa! What is his one travel must-have? "A towel of course (for further information please read a Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy)."

Mac first joined our office team as a GVI Country Expert for Thailand and Costa Rica and he particularly enjoys getting the chance to meet people who are really passionate about volunteering. He thinks of himself as Carl Frederickson from the movie Up. "Just a bloke who enjoys sitting in a comfy chair; I think we can all relate to that." Mac, we absolutely agree!

Shayle Havemann

Director of Programs
Meet Shayle, our innovative and driven director for all our projects around the world. She has two honours degrees, one in Industrial and Organisational Psycology, and another in Developmental and Education Psycology. Shayle also has over 10 years experience in setting up, managing and evaluating environmental and community programs across Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

She is well-practiced in facilitating meaningful and effective intercultural engagement and this makes her the perfect person for overseeing our operations in the multicultural country of South Africa.

When not attending meetings or planning her next endeavour, Shayle can be found spending time with her family or taking part in some or other exciting outdoors activity!

Megan Brett

Incidentals Project Leader
Meet Megan, our Incidentals Project Leader in Jalova. She loves anoles, frogs, and all the other animals she can find in the jungle, which seems to be a good fit with what she is doing here with us at GVI. Megan has previous experience working on a dairy farm and with local conservation groups in New Zealand.

While working with GVI she gets plenty of chance to see and identify interesting animals. Costa Rica is quite a change from what she is used to but she loves the chance to use her training in zoology and ecology with a very different ecosystem than any she would find in New Zealand, her home country.

Laura Dix-Bowler

Business & Systems Analyst
Meet Laura. In addition to once being a promising figure skater, Laura is also a trained animal handler, and used to volunteer at a zoo in NYC. She likens herself to Blossom from the Powerpuff Girls, “She’s the brains of the operation”. We can’t argue there, HQ would fall apart without her!

She joined the Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition as a volunteer and immediately knew there was no going back to working for The Man. She became an ambassador and started planning her next trip when we sent her the Regional Coordinator vacancy. 5 weeks later she was in Cape Town!

Laura’s one travel must-have she recommends to volunteers? Coconut Desert Essence shampoo… “It smells amazing and it’s environmentally friendly. No-one should have to sacrifice their hair while travelling, even in remote environments.”

Cynthia Arochi Zendejas

Costa Rica Country Director
Meet Cynthia, our Country Director in Costa Rica. She started out with GVI as one of our National Scholarship Program participants in 2006 and later became our Programme Coordinator in Mexico. Her skills and enthusiasm just made it too hard to let her get away!

Cynthia is a certified Veterinarian, an EFR Instructor and holds a Master’s degree in International environmental Science. She is also a member of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation, chapter Costa Rica.

The most interesting things she’s experienced during life in the field? “Watching the turtles hatching! Also finding jaguar tracks and being able to participate in community tours.” Apart from those, Cynthia also loves arranging and participating in the fun Charity Challenges with volunteers.

What does Cynthia think volunteers bring to the projects? Since our goal is to provide support to local organisations which don’t have the human or economic resources to achieve their conservation or sustainable development objectives, our volunteers play a key role by being the hands needed, or helping to fund raise for those projects.”

Select a Start Date

  • 2018
  • 2019

Select a Duration

Select a start date first.

Select Add-Ons

+ $29