Samui Elephant Sanctuary (SES)
The first ethical elephant sanctuary on Koh Samui, Southern Thailand
Our concept of elephant care and welfare is inspired and supported by Lek Chailert, world renowned elephant conservationist, founder of Save Elephant Foundation and world famous Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. Lek is at the forefront of ethical elephant tourism in Thailand and throughout Asia, which is seeing a growing demand for elephant camps to transition from elephant riding to a sanctuary model as promoted by Save Elephant Foundation & Asian Elephant Projects Saddle Off programs.
We offer tours that provide insights into the nature and importance of these majestic giants, with a unique opportunity to feed elephants, walk with them, and observe them as they forage, socialise, and play in their fabulous purpose built pool.
The elephants in our care have previously endured a hard life working long hours for tourist's entertainment or in the logging industry; a stark contrast to the dignified, peaceful lives they now enjoy. The goal of Samui Elephant Sanctuary is to provide a happy home in nature for the herd where they are free to express their natural instincts and receive the care and respect they deserve.
Founder, Samui Elephant Sanctuary
SAENGDUEAN LEK CHAILERT
Founder, Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant Foundation
Lek was born in the small hill tribe village of Baan Lao, two hours north of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Her grandfather was a traditional healer, or shaman, and not only treated the people in his community, but would help heal the sick or injured animals that villagers would bring to him. Lek's grandfather sought to impart his knowledge of the plant and animal kingdom to Lek, which she gratefully received. Lek realised that all animals strive to be safe and happy and consequently became determined to spend her life saving animals. With a love and respect for her country’s national symbol, and the knowledge that they were becoming endangered, Lek began advocating for the rights and welfare of Asian elephants in Thailand, founding Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant Foundation.
In an industry steeped in tradition, advocating for both captive and wild Asian elephants has not been an easy battle. However, with hard work and determination, her voice is now internationally recognised and in addition to being featured in several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards.
In 2001, Lek was named the Ford Foundation’s “Hero of the Planet”. The National Geographic documentary Vanishing Giants highlights Lek’s work with the Asian elephant and she was recognized by the Humane Society of the United States with the Genesis Award in 2003. In 2005, Lek was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her work in conservation. Lek has also earned honorary degrees from Rajabhat Chiang Mai University. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton invited Lek to Washington DC in 2010 to honor her as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation.
Today, Lek continues to be at the forefront of elephant and other animal rights causes, raising international awareness and encouraging other countries in the region to follow her lead, as well as helping to provide sustainable alternatives for local villages. Most days, she can be found at Elephant Nature Park spending time with her rescued herd.