Elephant Nature Park Lek's Bio
The park is close to her home village and has been supported by their family tour business which operates educational and environmental trips as well as a travel website. Her life-quest is to provide a sanctuary for elephants to live in a peaceful natural environment. This love of the elephant began as a youngster. The family cared for an elephant which became a close companion of Lek's. This affection led to working with elephants in the forests. With a vet they provided medical care to sick elephants in remote areas. Travel to these areas is hazardous and often involves hours of walking narrow jungle paths inaccessible to vehicles. She is often away for days at a time. The park's current herd includes disabled, orphans, blind and rescued, elephants of all ages.
The Elephants under her care came mainly from private owners and she has had to negotiate fees to enable them to join her herd. Some outlived their usefulness to loggers while others became useless to trekking camp owners. Leks work takes her deep into the jungles of Northern Thailand where, with the help of medical staff, she treats tribal villagers and their families with medical care and, often, donated clothing. Her Jumbo Express programme provides much needed care to elephants in the jungles in Chiang Mai province and beyond.
Protection of the forests is another of her many hobbies and she had initiated a programme of saving individual trees using local Buddhist beliefs and sacred saffron cloth to tie around each tree. Locals are reluctant to cut down these trees fearing insults to jungle spirits.
Her programmes are focused around local culture, common sense and a deep conviction in the preservation of her home area. Sustainability is the key-term to describe her efforts. Elephant volunteers from around the world assist her in a unique programme involving learning, physical help and education.
Lek's efforts have been recognised worldwide and numerous stories have appeared on TV and print media including National Geographic and the Smithsonian Society. Awards include Guest of Honour - 2003 US Humane Society, 2005 Time Magazine 'Asian Hero of the year', 2006 Earth Day Award, Honourary PhD (Veterinarian Science) awarded by HM Crown Prince of Thailand
Currently 35 elephants are under her care and the park has had seven births since 1996. Anyone witnessing Lek with elephants will see a loving bond, closeness and a special understanding. Her commitment and extensive field work make her projects unique.