Sangduen “Lek” Chailert
Sangduen "Lek" Chailert is an animal rights advocator and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Thailand. She is known as Thailand’s “Elephant Whisperer”. She has dedicated her life to fighting for animal rights and putting an end to animal abuse. She has influenced others to advocate for the welfare of animals.  She founded Elephant Nature Park and Save Elephant Foundation.
Early life[change | change source]
Sangdeaun “Lek” Chailert was born in 1961. She was born in a village in Thailand called Baan Lao. This village was located in the Northern Mountains of Thailand. Starting from a young age, she spent a lot of time with animals and loved them. She looked up to her grandfather. He was a shaman, which is a traditional healer. He helped sick and injured people within his community, and would also help sick animals. Chailert helped her grandfather take care of the animals. She developed a passion for it. She witnessed the horrible abuse of elephants when she was sixteen years old. The elephants were forced to carry logs into the jungle. Chailert graduated from Chiang Mai University, a public university in Northern Thailand.
Career[change | change source]
Chailert advocates for Asian Elephants. She founded Elephant Nature Park (ENP). Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for abused Asian Elephants in Chiang Mai Province in Thailand. It provides a home and basic necessities for elephants who were abused. It takes up 250 acres. She rescued over 200 elephants and many other animals.
Chailert also founded Save Elephant Foundation. It is a non-profit organization. The main purpose of this organization is to protect Asian Elephants. People are able to volunteer or become an Elephant Ambassador.
She first started taking action after witnessing elephants being forced to carry logs into the jungle. She realized that the abuse affects the elephants' mental health. Chailert treats elephants as a part of her family.
Save Elephant Foundation[change | change source]
Save Elephant Foundation is a a non-profit organization. The main purpose of this organization is to protect Asian Elephants. The organization also helps cats. Save Elephant Foundation takes donations. People are also able to volunteer or become an Elephant Ambassador.
Elephant Nature Park[change | change source]
Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for abused Asian Elephants in Thailand. It takes up 250 acres. The main purpose of this is for elephants to feel safe and loved. It is also so that they feel protected and not get abused. The Elephant Nature Park is also known as ENP. ENP is dedicated to providing education about Asian Elephants. Visitors are able to meet the elephants. They are also able to learn about their past. They can also make improvements to the park. There are also 500 dogs at ENP that have been rescued. Visitors can play, walk, and feed the dogs. Elephant Nature Park was recently raided by the Department of National Parks. However, they have moved away from ENP since then.  Chailert continues to advocate for the welfare of Asian Elephants.
Accomplishments and awards[change | change source]
Chailert is in documentaries by National Geographic, Animal Planet, Discovery, and BBC. She was invited by Hillary Clinton to Washington D.C. in 2010. She was recognized as one of the six Global Conservation Female Heroes. She was recognized as one of Time Magazine’s "Heroes from Asia." Chailert was named “Hero of the Planet” by Ford Foundation in 2001. She got the Genesis Award from the Humane Society for her National Geographic documentary "Vanishing Giants." She received the Legion d’Honneur in Bangkok in 2022 from the french president Emmanuel Macron.
Present Day - Raising Awareness[change | change source]
Chailert continues to advocate for Asian Elephants and tries her best to raise awareness throughout the world. She has successfully rescued over 200 elephants. She first started taking action after witnessing elephants being forced to carry logs into the jungle. She later realized that all this abuse deeply affects their mental health. In fact, some elephants have become blind because of slingshots targeted at their eyes as well as the bright lights in a circus. Elephants endure intense training for circuses. Many elephants are taken away from their parents at a very young age, which significantly affects them later in life. Some elephants get chained up on their legs, causing them to bleed because of the deep cuts in their legs. Because of the harsh conditions, many elephants become very aggressive and develop a lot of trauma. Elephants are commonly forced to do tricks, get ridden, and do paintings using their trunks. They are also used for their ivory. They are also forced to do extremely tough labor. Many elephants suffer from abuse that is involved with logging, tourism, circuses, and street begging. Elephants are meant to be in the wild and be independent. They are not meant to be used as entertainment for humans. Many people are not aware of how this affects elephants. Chailert’s mentality is that an elephant isn’t just an animal; they are a person. That is why she treats them with respect. She treats them as if they are part of her family.  Chailert was taught to respect nature at a young age. Chailert acknowledges the fact that more people are being educated about this topic. She hopes more people are informed. She would like others to spread the word.
References[change | change source]
- Zabriskie, Phil (2005-10-03). "Asia's Heroes 2005, Sangduen "Lek" Chailert Thailand's Elephant Woman". Time Magazine.
- King, Robert. "The Elephant Whisperer". The Ecologist 35.9 (Nov/Dec 2005): 48–54.
- Garcia, Luisa. "Meet Thailand's elephant whisperer". CBS News. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "INTERVIEW: Lek Chailert, the Elephant Whisperer of Elephant Nature Park". Green Global Travel. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
- "Love & Bananas: An Elephant Story". National Geographic - Videos, TV Shows & Photos - Asia. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
- "Lek Chailert". (2019-10-28). UNSSC | United Nations System Staff College. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
- "BBC World Service - The Conversation, Living With Elephants: Saba Douglas-Hamilton and Sangduen 'Lek' Chailert". BBC. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
- "Elephants Are Tortured and Trafficked to Entertain Tourists in Thailand". Time. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
- "Women's Activism NYC". www.womensactivism.nyc. Retrieved 2022-02-04.