Dhamma Wildlife Foundation

The Dhamma Wildlife Foundation Thailand is an animal rescue and wildlife research center with the atmosphere of a retreat center. It's the perfect site for our final course - Wildlife Conservation and Care - as well as our last semester reflections on the many places our studies will have taken us.

Climb the 4WD road up a narrow valley from Chiang Dao ("City of Stars"), wind along the rice paddies and orchards on the valley floor below the towering tropical forest on either side. Nearly the last settlement before you cross into the Wildlife Preserve is Dhamma.

When they catch sight of you, three Asiatic black bears Layla, Samson, and Bu Bu will lumber up the hill to greet you. Beyond the bears, you'll find a few monkeys and the meandering stream. All of the animals at DWFT have been rescued, some from private homes where treatment was fair but others from much poorer conditions. While students are not permitted to touch the primates or bears, there are opportunities to care for them and to observe them from just inches away.

But DWFT not only rescues and takes care of the animals on site but also uses camera traps to document wildlife in the bordering Wildlife Preserve, which is also home to the third tallest mountain in Thailand and many unique upland forest habitats.

In Thai, dhamma means Buddha's teachings and also refers to the cosmic order of nature. DWFT brings together the practice of animal rescue and wildlife research with optional yoga, meditation, and other activities intended to bring mind, heart, and hands together for the benefit of nature and others. In addition to your coursework here, you will help support the reserve by helping to care for the animals that live at Dhamma and work on projects that support the wildlife in the surrounding forest.