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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.

rescued thai elephant elephant sanctuary thailand

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 for a better life. Prior to her rescue, Lam Yai worked for decades in logging and later was forced to give 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. 

After her rescue Lam Yai was a loner, but more recently has formed a strong bond with Kham Sing. These elephants are now best friends and for the past year have been inseparable. They are both blind in their left eye, so they look out for each other and can be seen guiding each other.

Lam Yai likes to swim in the dam and wander around the sanctuary forging on natural vegetation. Lam Yai is especially fond of bananas. 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. We continue to treat her physical wounds with daily medical care. Though Lam Yai’s transition will take time, we are confident that the daily trauma of her past will continue to fade as she immerses herself in sanctuary life. 

Kham Noi

Kham Noi is a female elephant born in 1960. She was forced to work in the logging industry near Mae Sot, Tak Province, until the ban on logging in 1989.  Kham Noi was then put to work in a riding camp in Chiang Mai and was still being ridden right up to the day of her rescue. When she arrived at the sanctuary the signs of a hard life were evident in body and mind. She was underweight and suffering from dental problems, but has been responding well to a special diet and a kinder environment. 

Despite years of abuse, Kham Noi is friendly towards people, however, when it comes to other elephants, she is mostly reclusive and spends much of her time wandering the sanctuary alone. Due to her domineering nature, the other elephants generally choose to keep their distance from Kham Noi. Her favourite foods are bananas and watermelon. Unlike most elephants, Kham Noi seems to like dogs.



Suda was rescued from a trekking camp in Phuket in June 2020 so that she could retire and start her new life with us. She was born in Tak province in 1960 and her life followed the tragic path of so many elephants during this time. Initially, she worked in the logging industry and then after the ban on logging was taken to the streets by her mahout to beg. Suda then found herself in a camp providing rides for tourists. 

Since her rescue, Suda has not formed friendships with any of the other elephants at the sanctuary, and for now is a recluse. She has embraced her newfound freedom and loves to play in the water and mud and roam the sanctuary. She is easily annoyed by dogs and her favourite foods are bananas and watermelon.

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. Following the predicable path of the times, she was forced to hauling felled logs through the forest in Mae Sot, Tak Province, until the government enforced a ban on logging in 1989. Jamie was rescued in January 2020 to live out the rest of her days with the dignity and respect she deserves.

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 grueling logging industry. She also has an ID tattoo on her backside. Jamie has formed an intimate friendship with Bua Toom and they hang out together every day, often in the custom-built swimming pool. As well as bananas, Jamie loves to eat coconuts.


Bua Toom 

During the COVID19 pandemic we received information about an elephant in Kanchanaburi in need of urgent rescue. Although we were struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 and lockdowns, we could not turn our back on her and pass on the opportunity to change her life forever. 

The beautiful girl awaiting rescue was Bua Toom.  She was born around 1970 and her life prior to rescue was one of great turmoil. She initially worked in logging and then for several decades she was forced to work in an elephant riding camp in Kanchanaburi- an unnatural and mundane life that is also punishing on the body.

Bua Toom arrived at her forever home in September 2020 and slowly began to introduce herself to our other residents.  We were happy to see her rejoice in her new home, recognizing that she was finally in a safe place.


She has since become fast friends with Jamie, but is a little wary of Kham Noi and Suda. She can sometimes be seen shaking young coconuts free from the palms and then cracking them open under the weight of her foot, slurping up the sweet juice and soft fruit with her trunk. She loves to amble through the sanctuary, foraging the local plants and stopping for mud bath to cool down on a hot day.

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Yani is a female elephant who is thought to be about 55 years old. For many years, she used to work doing elephant riding in Pattaya, after which the owner moved her to Kanchanaburi to live at Ganesha Park for a few months. At this time, the lease on the land at Ganesha Park had been cancelled, meaning that an alternative home had to be found for Yani and another three elephants as soon as possible.


Arrangements were made for three of the elephants to be rescued to live at Elephant Nature Park, and for Samui Elephant Sanctuary to rescue Yani because we had a chain-free shelter already built and a place for Yani to stay. 
Yani was rescued on July 21, 2023. It took 21 hours to transport her by truck from Kanchanaburi to Koh Samui, including a 2-hour ferry crossing. When Yani arrived at Samui Elephant Sanctuary Chaweng Noi, she was quite tired from the long journey. We unchained her, gave her a bath and allowed her time to adjust to her new environment and rest for a while.  The vet then checked Yani to assess her condition and confirmed that her general health was okay. Already, we can see that she is a really calm and sweet elephant. Understandably, she is still quite shy and prefers to stay alone for now. We hope that in time she will begin to make friends with the other elephants and settle into her new loving forever home.

In Loving Memory of Kham Sing 1960-2024


Kham Sing, a beautiful female elephant, born around 1960, 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 back with the letters OL so that she was easily identifiable to her owner. Six decades of punishing work and poor nutrition took its toll on her body. She arrived at Samui Elephant Sanctuary malnourished, very weak, and blind in her left eye.

Kham Sing was cautious of the other elephants with the exception of Lam Yai, with whom she developed a close friendship over the years. She liked to spend time under the shade under of the forest canopy, play in the mud and swim pool. Being a senior elephant, Kham Sing would lie down to sleep every night on a pile of sand.

Sadly, our beloved Kham Sing passed away on June 3, 2024. She was suffering from kidney failure and a blood infection, and despite the vet team’s best efforts to help her, she did not respond to treatment. We transported her to the hospital at the Southern Thailand Elephant Foundation, Phang Nga, where she received treatment, but regretfully passed away four days later.

We are happy that the last years of Kham Sing’s life were spent in a loving, natural environment among friends where she was able to relax and have access to lots of healthy food and fresh water. She seemed very content during her 4 years at our sanctuary, and although it is very sad to say goodbye, we feel honored that we were able to make the last part of her life comfortable and full of love.

Now her spirit begins another journey, and we wish her eternal peace and happiness. Beautiful Kham Sing will forever have a very special place in our hearts. RIP Kham Sing

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