"I like ideas. What they can do. Anytime an idea grows into something that makes a tangible progressive impact, even if only on an individual basis, it makes me proud." -David Ridgen
Tag Archives: sangduen “lek” chailert
Lek Chailert has earned global respect for her tireless work rescuing abused elephants and providing them with a life free of abuse. She's collaborated on laws that would provide them protections, has won international awards, and been featured in articles and documentaries seen around the world. Despite the accolades, in her own country she's been persecuted, threatened, ridiculed, raided, disowned by her own family, and even forced to go into exile for a period of time. But she has never given up fighting for her beliefs.
At quarter past six every morning I would make my way to Elephant Nature Park's main complex for a coffee. It was my favorite time of day here. Quiet and still dark, the hustle and bustle of the day's activities had yet to begin, in the distance the silhouettes of the elephants slowly moving towards the river for a morning drink.
Whether used in the illegal logging trade or in tourist camps for rides and other "entertainment," unless you're lucky enough to come across elephants in the wild while visiting Asia every elephant you encounter will have been both literally and figuratively broken in a process called phajaan.
I'm just about to climb over the top of the gate and into the elephant barn to join Lek Chailert as she softly sings lullabies to Faa Mai and the other elephants in the barn, when Kim loudly shouts my name in a panicked voice. I look down towards the ground just in time to see my backpack – filled with my camera, lenses, audio recording gear, and travel notebooks – get whisked away into the darkness by an errant elephant trunk.
In just one short week we will finally be on our way to Thailand. This trip is all about elephants, and we'll be spending our time volunteering at two different sanctuaries where captive elephants rescued from lives filled with hard labor and mental and physical abuse have an opportunity to spend their days in as natural a state as possible.
In April 2012 I wrote a post about the harassment and raids at two highly respected animal sanctuaries in Thailand, Elephant Nature Park and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand. With less than a month to go before we embark on our adventure to to the country, I wanted to write a follow-up post to unravel what has proven to be a very convoluted sequence of events and find out whatever became of the confiscated animals and the criminal charges.
Although I left my heart in Africa last year a part of it now resides in Thailand, a country I've never been to, as I follow the day-to-day progression of events at two internationally respected wildlife sanctuaries. The Elephant Nature Park (ENP), and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), have been repeatedly raided by armed government officials from the Department of National Parks (DNP) in what appears to be retaliatory actions for statements made by ENP and WFFT decrying the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, and the Thai government's suspected complicity.