Sangduen Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation and Elephant Nature Park. She is co-founder of Phuket Elephant Sanctuary.
Elephant Nature Park
You may know of the Horse Whisperer but what may surprise you is there is an Elephant Whisperer. Lek Chailert, born in Thailand, loves elephants. In fact, she loves them so much, she founded an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Lek Chailert “heals with love”!
Elephant Nature Park (ENP) is a 250 acre free-roaming sanctuary for rescued Asian elephants. Many of them have been in the tourist or logging industry their entire lives till they were rescued and suffer from severe mental trauma and physical disabilities or chronic painful ailments. She gives them a new lease on life and for many, freedom for the first time in their lives. She’s rescued over 200 elephants, some of them working upwards 50+ years of their life.
Lek Chailert is world-renown for elephant care and conservation and is tireless in her advocacy for elephants. She continues to educate about the plight of working elephants and the long-term mental and physical damage it does to them.
Lek works with elephant owners throughout Thailand to provide alternate ways to have ethical tourism concerning elephants instead of riding them with a program called “Saddle Off”.
One such place is: Elephant Haven
Elephant Haven, was once a trekking/riding camp. Lek reaches out to elephant operators and camps to try to help them transition from trekking to ethical tourism with "Saddle Off" program. Elephant camps are NOT sanctuaries. The goal is to bring in revenue for these camps through compassionate, chain-free care of elephants instead of abuse.
With Covid taking a devastating toll on tourism in Thailand, many captive elephants were starving to death because owners had no income from tourists to care for them. Lek and staff at ENP will help ANY elephant, captive or free. Although the goal is to free all captive elephants from trekking, entertainment/circus, and logging industry, her utmost concern is always the welfare of the elephant. ENP was inundated with requests from private owners/operators and camps for help in feeding their elephants. It is and was hard to see elephants chained up, malnurished and/or abused, but it is not the elephants fault, nor is care denied because the elephants are captive ones. Lek helps ALL elephants regardless of their life situation.
In some cases, Lek was able to convince the owners to sell her the elephant(s) due to lack of viable income the elephants could bring to the operators since Covid prevented travel into their country. This was a benefit side-effect of the pandemic. Lek was able to rescue many more elephants from captivity in 2020-2021.
She was honored in 2010 in the United States as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation.
To hear more from Lek Chailert, this amazing woman; her mission to rescue elephants, click on CBS link below.
Through her work and media coverage she continues to enlighten others of the plight of working elephants. Lek encourages those in the tourist industry to make positive changes for captive elephants, and her knowledge, commitment and love for elephants inspires people world-wide to be the voice for elephants!
Watch the herd of elephants at ENP greet Lek's husband, Darrick!