Mr. Sak “The Elephant Guide”, LEH Founder and Co-director
Mr. Sak, more commonly known as ‘The Elephant Man’, has been working with elephants since 2011 when he began his work in the Hong Sa district. In 2013, he started working as a guide and administrator at the Elephant Conservation Center in Xayaboury where he has been for the last 4 years. In 2014, he organized the Elephant Library in Hong Sa, walking with elephants for 4 days to bring books to students who live where there is no access by road. In 2015, he was the caravan coordinator for the 20 elephant caravan that walked over 500km from Xayboury to Luang Prabang, promoting education and giving children the chance to learn about both elephants and the environment along the way.
“I feel like it is my duty to create a Lao oraganization that is run by the Lao people, so that we can reap the benefits of our own hard work.”
He is also a prominent environmental activist, setting up a waste management and education projects that brought over 100 waste baskets to schools across the country. In late 2017, Mr. Sak decided it was time to put all of his knowledge and skills to use and open up an elephant organization that was both locally owned and operated. His passion for elephants and the environment is hard at work in his new endeavor as Founder and Director at the LEH, and he plans to continue educating as many people and saving as many elephants as possible.
Mr. Vi, LEH Co-Director
Mr. Vi, a co-director at the LEH, first got involved when he met Mr. Sak during his waste management project. He owns and runs a printing shop in Xayaboury, and has benefited the local community in numerous ways. For example, he recently organized a clothing donation for poor and rural villages, as well as helped relocate books to the countryside to improve children’s literacy. Mr. Sak decided to take Mr. Vi on board in late 2016 for his vital expertise and financial support. He is now an integral part of the LEH.
Meet the Mahouts
Each Elephant at the LEH has its own mahout, which is the equivalent of a handler. They spend many years together and the mahout makes sure that the elephant is as healthy as possible. The mahouts inherit their elephants from their ancestors and spend most their lives working with their elephant. Elephant camps like the LEH create jobs and income for the mahouts.
Mr. Suvan’s elephant, Phukhampanh, has a broken leg and needs special care. It does not get ridden by any visitors and cannot carry loads. If this elephant’s leg becomes worse to
the point where it can’t walk, then it will be very difficult to get it the nutrients that it needs. Mr Noi In works with an elephant named PhuBounmy. He was one of the mahouts that walked with Mr. Sak in the elephant caravan in 2015. Mr.Pongchan’s elephant is named PhuSonlong. They are both older male elephants that have been unwanted from other camps because they are not suitable for tourism purposes. Thankfully they are both healthy and very friendly elephants, making them a great addition to the LEH.