How elephants help producing paper in Sri Lanka

Anastasia Travelsia
Apr 23
Sri Lanka is amazing people, beautiful beaches and a home for very clever calm and cute animal like the elephant.
Volunteer Opportunities
I participated in this project and want to share with you my experience.

The project is situated on a beautiful 15-acre estate known as ‘Samaragiri’, in Sri Lanka, which has been home to the Samarasinghe family for many generations. The family has owned elephants since the 1960’s. In 1979 Mr. Sam Samarasinghe an animal lover opened the estate to the public as Club Concept, since then guests have been able to interact with elephants by riding, bathing and feeding.

In an effort to increase awareness about the life of domesticated elephants in Sri Lanka and the work the Samarasinghe family put into improving their welfare. MEF welcomes volunteers and tourists to meet and experience the elephants.

There is a nice big house for volunteers and a few bungalows nearby in the forest area. So you can choose where to live you prefer.

You will be working alongside a mahout (elephant carer) who has years of experience and draws upon generations of tribal knowledge about elephants. The activities you will be getting involved with on a daily basis include:

Feeding – The elephants are fed twice a day and their main source of nourishment comes from the leaves and branches of trees;

Washing – The elephants are also bathed twice a day. There is a small river next to the project land where you will wash and groom the elephants each day. Typically, coconut shells are used to scrub the elephant’s skin to ensure they are nice and clean. The elephants enjoy this part of the day the most as it is like a massage for them;

Walking – The elephants need to walk a certain distance each day in order to keep up their health. You will assist the mahout in walking the elephants around the project site, giving them the daily exercise they need.

I stayed for one week and the first 3 days I got used to the routine as it was all new to me. But working with the elephants is incredibly amazing and they have beautiful energy that they transmit to you. I really felt a connection with my elephant. You get to feed the elephant every day and at the end of my stay, I felt that the elephant really recognized me and that was really amazing!

I really enjoyed making the vitamins balls for the elephants, and I also really enjoying bathing time and scrubbing him in the river with a coconut husk. I even got to do elephant observations; this is a lovely job to do as you have the opportunity to see the behavior of the elephants.

Maximus Elephant Paper Factory

This is amazing factory nearby the elephant's project. You couldn't imagine what it built for!

The factory produces 100% recycled handmade products from elephant dung and office waste paper manufactured in Sri Lanka. Elephants are not carnivores, so they consume a diet of fruit, veg, palm leaves, bark etc.

An adult elephant eats 200kg of vegetation and produces around 100kg of dung a day. The elephant dung is absolutely perfect for making paper using traditional paper production by hand.

Maximus won the BBC World Challenge, a global competition for small businesses that have shown enterprise and innovation. Maximus also won the Greening America “Green Leadership Award” for its efforts to build a more socially just and ecologically sustainable economy.

Maximus fully adheres to fair trade principles, paying above award wages, does not employ child labour, provides safe working conditions and is very much an environmentally conscious company.

You can go there for a free excursion and see how its work by your own eyes. Don't forget to buy souvenirs there:)

Paradise Found!

Apart from elephant experience, I decided to spend some time on the most beautiful beach in the south part of Sri Lanka.

I think I’ve found my Paradise, my happy place. Sri Lanka, on the whole, brought me enormous joy, but the little beach village of Mirissa is, I think, as near to perfect as I’ll ever find.

The beach is the cleanest I have ever seen, I haven’t spotted even one piece of washed up plastic or litter. The sea is crystal clear and warm, but not too warm.

There are no any problems to find accommodation near the beach. For under $20 per night we have our own bathroom, large double and single beds, mosquito nets and fans, it’s perfect. It’s not too hot here, the rooms seem to be plenty cool enough without air con.

At one end of the Mirissa Beach was a small island, that one could walk out to in between some rocks.

Nice walk up, and good view at the top overlooking the beach and the sea.

Whale Watching

Mirissa Beach is a great place to go whale watching. There are many tour companies that offer whale and dolphin watching tours and if you are lucky you can get to see many different types. Blue whales, Bryde’s whales, Sperm whales, Fin whales and Orca have all been spotted off Mirissa.