Elephant whisperer Lek Chailert
Sangdeaun Lek Chailert was born in 1961 in a small mountain village in Baan Lao, two hours north of Chiang Mai Thailand. Her grandfather was a shaman, a traditional healer who not only helped the people but also the animals in his community. Finally, Lek was allowed to accompany her grandfather and take part in his healing sessions. She realized that all animals wanted a good life.
But she also witnessed incredible atrocities against the elephants. One day as a teenager, she heard unspeakable screams near a stream in a very remote jungle village. When she asked, they replied that elephants work in the deforestation here. As she got closer, she saw how the mahout kept stabbing the screaming bull elephant with a knife to force him to work. His eyes, the energy in his eyes, the anger, the despair, the fear and the hopelessness touched Lek’s heart so much. His screams haunted her during the night and she decided to help the tortured animals.
Elephant Nature Park - ENP
. . . is simply the heart of the entire organization. In 2003 this piece of land was donated by Bert von Roemer and the ENP was founded. Lek brought the first 9 rescued elephants there. 106 elephants, several hundred cats and dogs, water buffalo and many other animals now live in this area.
Meanwhile, Lek has expanded her mission of the saddle-off concept – her voice is heard all over the world. Many elephant camps join the change and advertise with * no chain, no riding, no hook *. More and more tourists are excited to see the animals in their natural environment.
Save Elephant Foundation - SEF
Lek founded the SEF is a Thai non-profit organization dedicated to the care and support of the captive elephant populations in Thailand. In the meantime, further projects have also been launched in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Asian Elephant Projects
Asian Elephant Projects is led by the experienced team of the SEF and the ENP. This organization helps small, independent elephant tourism operators convert to ethical and sustainable programs that enable better and more natural life for their elephants. By joining the saddle-off model, elephant owners undertake to adhere to comprehensive guidelines designed to ensure the welfare of the elephants they care for. In return, we provide the knowledge and resources to support these ethical elephant projects so that they generate a reliable income that covers the costs of caring for the elephants and the people and benefits the local communities. Qualified tour guides, transportation, booking management and marketing as well as veterinary care and delivery of elephant feed are provided.
Here you will also find a selection of species-appropriate elephant camps for your next Thailand vacation. We have visited some of these projects ourselves and are introducing them to you on our blog.