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Herd at Samui Elephant Sanctuary


Kham San


Kham San is a female elephant, born around 1967 in Surin, Northeast Thailand. She was initially used in the logging industry until the government ban in 1989. Kham San then followed the treacherous movement of life after logging into a life of trekking, providing numerous exhausting rides every day for tourists. In 2002, she was moved to Koh Samui where she continued to be used to provide rides to tourists.

Kham San was rescued and brought to our sanctuary on Thursday 28th December 2017. She now spends her days adjusting to her new life where she never has to worry about being forced to work again. Instead, she is provided with the rehabilitation she needs and the more natural life she so deserves. Kham San has a healthy appetite and also drinks a huge amount of water. She now spends her days eating, playing in the pool and in the mud pit with her friend Mae Kham Pang as well as relaxing under the shade of the trees.


Kham San can be recognized by the lovely long hair at the tip of her tail as well as a hole in her right ear and many scars on her head, which were inflicted upon her by previous mahouts as a means to control her.

Mae Kham Pang

Mae Kham Pang is a female elephant born around 1963 in Chiang Mai Province in the north of Thailand. Initially, she was put to work in the logging industry then her owner moved her to the tourist industry to give rides to tourists. For over five decades, Mae Kham Pang’s life revolved around providing rides to as many guests as possible each day to earn her keep at the trekking camp. She was then moved from the north of Thailand to Pattaya, where there was a high demand among tourists to ride an elephant and watch them perform. 

On Friday, July 20, 2018, we heard Mae Kham Pang's story and talked to the owner to negotiate her release. Following successful negotiations, we rescued Mae Kham Pang so that she could join the herd at Samui Elephant Sanctuary a week later.

Mae Kham Pang loves to eat and we are ensuring she has a large variety of nutritious food to devour- especially her favourite food which is watermelon. Based on her eating patterns and overall condition, it is likely that before being rescued, she was not provided with adequate food.

rescued elephant Mae Kham Pang Samui elephant sanctuary

Mae Kham Pang still carries injuries to her feet, and her nails are permanently damaged as a result of having to carry tourists up the mountain multiple times every day. She also has an injury to her tail, which is extremely short. The cause of this remain unclear.


In 2022, she started experiencing problems with her digestive system and had to spend 23 days at Krabi Elephant Hospital. Thankfully, Mae Kham Pang responded well to treatment and has now recovered and is enjoying her life in her your forever home.

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Cartoon (San Kham)

Cartoon (San Kham), a female elephant, is a much loved member of our herd. She was born around 1962 in Surin in the northeast of Thailand. Cartoon was first used in the logging industry, until this was finally banned by the Government in 1989. She was then forced into the tourism industry where life consisted of providing grueling rides for tourists in the heat, hour after hour, day after day.

Cartoon was brought to Koh Samui around 2002 and continued providing tourist rides until she was rescued to live at our sanctuary on Monday 1st January 2018, joining our happy herd. While initially very shy, Cartoon has come to enjoy the company of the herd, particularly Mae Kham Keaw, with whom spends most of the day. 


Cartoon loves to wander the sanctuary, foraging for food, playing in the pool and socialising with the other elephants. When there is a storm, she becomes afraid and seeks shelter, especially if there is thunder and lightning. Cartoon has embraced her new life on the island where she is treated with the love and respect that she deserves.  She is safe for the rest of her life, which happily, is now a dignified one.

Khum Phean

Khum Phean was born in 1958 in Tak province in Western Thailand. Her life followed the course of most captive elephants, initially working in the logging industry and then providing rides to tourists every day for about 30 years in Pattaya. At the trekking camp, she was kept on a short chain in-between providing rides to tourists in what must have seemed like an endless cycle of struggle.

She was rescued and brought to Samui Elephant Sanctuary on 27th June, 2018. When Khum Phean first arrived at the sanctuary she preferred to spend time alone but in time she struck up a friendship with Kaw Ta and they love to hang out together and play in the mud pit.  She enjoys wandering the sanctuary – drinking from the water tank, throwing sand over her body, chomping on the local vegetation, and scratching her body against the trees. As a result of her teeth being ground down over time, she is given plenty of soft foods to make eating easier.

rescued elephant Khum Phean at samui elephant sanctuary

At our sanctuary she has been afforded the freedom to exhibit natural behaviours for the first time in decades. Every night, when she returns to her chain free night shelter, she lays down to sleep and we can only imagine how good it must feel for her to be free of chains.

rescued elephant Kaew Ta at samui elephant sanctuary

Kaew Ta

Kaew Ta was born in 1963 in Surin Province in the northeast of Thailand. Her early life was spent labouring in the logging industry under grueling conditions. In 1989, the logging ban was implemented in Thailand and elephant owners looked for an alternative source of income.  

It was at this point that Kaew Ta was moved by her owner to service tourists with rides at a trekking camp. Approximately 20 years ago, Kaew Ta was moved to Koh Samui where her life of drudgery continued; chained to a tree until a guest arrived to ride her round the same route each time.


Kaew Ta is blind in her left eye as a result of failing to follow a command given by her mahout. He brutally punished her by striking her directly in the eye with a sharp object.

As a result of not receiving adequate food, Kaew Ta arrived at Samui Elephant Sanctuary on 13th June, 2018 extremely malnourished and exhausted. 

Despite all the adversity she has faced in her life before coming to the sanctuary she is very friendly towards people. On arrival at the sanctuary, she preferred to stay alone, but then she started to show trust in Khum Phean and today they are good friends. They love to play in the pool and the mud pit together – basic rights that were denied to her for decades. Kaew Ta can be identified by her small tushes and lack of tail hair. She finds thunder scary, and when there is a storm, she runs around trumpeting. 

Mae Kham Kaew

Mae Kham Kaew was born in Mae Hong Son, Northern Thailand around 1973. She was rescued from Ratchaburi, to the west of Bangkok, where she worked in a trekking camp, serving tourist's demands for elephant riding. Like so many captive elephants, her life followed the route of working in the logging industry until its ban in 1989 and then providing rides for tourists. She has been moved throughout the country at the hands of her multiple owners seeking the highest profits.

Mae Kham Kaew is blind in her right eye, which is believed to have resulted from her previous mahout using a sling shot on her when she failed to comply with a command. As a result, it is best to stand on her left so that you can be seen. 

She was rescued and brought to Samui Elephant Sanctuary on Thursday, 16th August, 2018. Since arriving, she has become friends with Cartoon and the two elephants are never far apart. One identifying feature is that she has a lot of pink pigmentation on her face. She is a naturally friendly elephant who welcomes visitors, especially if they have food to offer her- her favorite being watermelon. It’s great to see her relax in her new sanctuary home where she can rediscover her elephant nature.


Kham Paeng

Kham Paeng is a female elephant born around 1965. Before her rescue she was forced to work in a riding camp in Krabi, then moved to Phuket to help meet an increased demand from tourists for elephant riding. Kham Paeng’s life followed an all too common path for many elephants in Thailand and was moved around like a commodity.

Kham Paeng is recognisable by the empyema on her left cheek, which developed some time ago and was not treated properly while she was working at the riding camp.


When Kham Paeng was initially rescued in January 2020 she was taken to Samui Elephant Sanctuary Chaweng Noi, but was later moved to Samui Elephant Sanctuary Bophut where her health problems can be better treated.  Since her rescue she has not made any friendships but seems to be content as a loner. She enjoys playing in the pool and giving herself dust baths. It’s safe to assume that she is relieved to be in a safe place, free from chains and giving rides to tourists.

Herd at Samui Elephant Sanctuary
Chaweng Noi


Lam Yai

Lam Yai was rescued November 3, 2019 so that she could join our thriving herd. Prior to her rescue, Lam Yai worked for decades providing rides to tourists, who were most likely unaware of her daily suffering.

Tragically, she was intentionally blinded in her left eye after refusing to comply with a command from her mahout. Her body is a map of scars, which speak of a life of misery. When Lam Yai arrived, she was malnourished and her spirits were low. Since joining the herd, she is steadily gaining confidence and is settling in well at Samui Elephant Sanctuary under the loving care of her new mahout. We continue to treat her physical wounds, with daily medical care.
At 54 years old, we hope that Lam Yai will enjoy many years with us, experiencing a kinder world among friends with the freedom to forage and interact spontaneously with her own kind in a beautiful environment.

Though Lam Yai’s transition will take time, we are confident that the daily trauma of her past will soon start to fade as she immerses herself in sanctuary life. We are hopeful she will soon find a friend or two among our herd who will help her to heal and rediscover her elephant nature.

Kham Noi

Kham Noi is a female elephant born around 1960. She was forced to work in the logging industry near Mae Sot, Tak Province, until the Government implemented the logging ban in 1989.  Kham Noi was then moved to work in a riding camp in Chiang Mai and was still being ridden right up to the day of her rescue. She has clearly been worked hard and directed with a very heavy hand.

Due to her age and lack of appropriate care, she has significant problems with her teeth and will need a special supplementary diet to support her recovery.

She has shown a desire to make friends with Kham Paeng and we are hopeful that this relationship will develop into a beautiful bond, helping both elephants to recover from the trauma of their past.

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Suda was rescued from a trekking camp in Phuket in June 2020 to retire and start her new life with us. 

She was born in Tak province in 1960. 

Suda’s life followed the tragic path of so many elephants her age. First, she worked in the logging industry then street begging then she was used to provide rides to tourists. 

Suda has settled in perfectly to her new sanctuary life. She loves to roam freely throughout the sanctuary & is starting to form friendships with our herd. 

She is now safe for the rest of her life, which happily, is now a dignified one.



Jamie is a female elephant born around 1970.

Her life mirrored that of our sweet girl, Kham Noi. She was used to work as a logging elephant in Mae Sot, Tak Province until the government implemented the logging ban in 1989. Jamie was then moved to work in a riding camp in Chiang Mai where she was forced to give rides to tourist every day with no rest in a perceptual cycle of misery.

Jamie can be identified by the numerous scars on her backside caused by the chains strapped to her body to haul the logs during her years in the gruelling logging industry.

Jamie was rescued in January 2020 to live out her years with the dignity and respect she truly deserves.


Kham Sing

Kham Sing is also a beautiful female elephant, born around 1960. She was rescued in January 2020 from an elephant riding camp in Phang Nga in the south of Thailand.

She was trained and used for elephant riding and before that worked in logging, hauling logs through the forest. It was during this time that she was branded on her backside with the letters OL so that she was easily identifiable to her owner. Six decades of punishing work and poor nutrition have taken its toll on her body. She arrived at Samui Elephant Sanctuary malnourished, very weak, and blind in her left eye.

Kham Sing will now have access to an abundance of food in her new sanctuary home and we are confident that with the specialist care from our team, she will regain her strength and begin to embrace her new life with us.



During the COVID19 pandemic we received information about an elephant in Kanchanaburi in need of urgent rescue. Although we were struggling due the impacts of COVID19 we could not turn our back on her & the opportunity to change her life forever. 

The beautiful girl awaiting rescue was Buatoom.  She was born around 1970 and her life prior to rescue was one of great turmoil. For many decades she has been forced to work in an elephant riding camp in Kanchanaburi. 

Buatoom arrived to her forever home in September 2020 and slowly began to introduce herself to our other residents.  She was extremely relaxed and seemed to quickly recognize she was safe. 

She loves to amble through the sanctuary foraging for food and stopping for mud bath to cool down on a hot day.

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