Born just 2 hours north of Chiang Mai in a small hill tribe village called Baan Lao in Northern Thailand, Lek grew up surrounded by animals and opportunities to spend time with them. Her grandfather was a tradition healer, also known as shaman, who helped not only the people in his community but also injured or sick animals brought to him by the villagers for healing. Lek had the opportunity to witness many of these healings first-hand and was even allowed to participate in his work. It was through these experiences that Lek learned that all animals strive to live well, and consequently she decided to dedicate her life to saving animals.
Lek has a special passion for elephants, yet she strives to create a loving new home for every animal that is lucky enough to cross her path. With a profound love and deep respect for Thailand’s national symbol, and the knowledge that they were becoming endangered, Lek started her journey to fight for the rights and wellbeing of the Asian elephants in Thailand.
Being a promoter of positive change in the way that both domestic and wild Asian elephants are treated turned out to be no easy feat given the industry’s deep tradition and lack of education on animal welfare. However, her unwavering commitment and tireless work paid off as she is now internationally known as a voice of change. In addition to several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards over the past 10 years.
Lek’s work and passion continues to inspire all those committed to helping animal welfare and conservation, both in Thailand and beyond. Her mission to save the Asian elephants has also expanded as she founded the Save Elephant Foundation and brought together a dedicated team that works tirelessly by her side to protect the Asian elephant.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton invited Lek to Washington, DC in 2010 to honor her as one of six Women Heroes of Global Conservation. In addition, she was named one of Time Magazine’s Heroes of Asia for her work in conservation in 2005, the Ford Foundation’s “Hero of the Planet” in 2001, and The National Geographic documentary Vanishing Giants highlights Lek’s work with the Asian elephant and was recognized by the Humane Society of the United States with the Genesis Award in 2003. Lek has also earned honorary degrees from Rajabhat Chiang Mai University.
Lek remains a driving force in the elephant and animal rights movement, raising international awareness and motivating other countries and projects to follow her path. Most days, she can be found at Elephant Nature Park spending time with her beloved rescued elephants.