Who We Are
Our sanctuary is run by Kindred Spirit Elephant Foundation, a registered NGO in Thailand. We opened our doors in May 2016, with the aim to bring as many elephants as possible back to their natural habitat whilst working on educating both the public and the locals about elephant treatment and try to combat illegal trade. We at Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary are passionate about elephant welfare and want our elephants to live their lives as naturally and with as little human influence as possible. We do not promote elephant rides or any form of elephant performance.
We also work very closely with the community of our village where the sanctuary is set. We provide an income for our community by creating homestays for the volunteers to stay, renting land, and creating jobs. We give back to our wonderful community by teaching English at the school, to the homestays and to the mahouts.Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary was founded by Kerri & Sombat.
Kerri is Co-founder and Manager of Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Growing up on a dairy farm in Northern Ireland, Kerri spent her life surrounded by animals. She knew from a young age that she wanted to work with animals but wasn’t sure what direction to take. In 2013, after finishing her Zoology degree at Queen’s University Belfast, Kerri moved to Thailand and has worked with several NGOs, spending alot of time working with or visiting elephant projects. This is where her eyes where opened to the elephant situation in Asia and since then, she has been working on ways to help the elephants and spread awareness. Kerri can speak the tribal Karen language and is often seen around the village communicating with the locals.
Sombat is also Co-founder and Head Mahout of Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary. Sombat is from the Karen tribe and is a Thai National. He grew up in a village in Mae Chaem and studied in the local government schools until he was 15. Although his partner Kerri grew up surrounded by cattle, Sombat’s upbringing was surrounded by elephants and the culture of mahouting has been passed down from generation to generation. Sombat started learning the trade from his Father and Uncle from a very young age and started working in the tourist camps once he finished school. At the age of 21, he returned to his village to work with the elephants in an ethical project where they are returned to their natural habitat. This is where he met Kerri and also where Sombat could see first hand, how much happier and content the elephants where in the forest rather than in the camps – together they created KS Elephant Sanctuary!
Jade is our Project Assistant, originally from Kent in England, she has a foundation degree in Ecology and Conservation. She has spent every summer for the past 5 years volunteering and working on conservation projects in different places in the world, from rhino’s, to elephants, to water voles and turtles. Jade spent the summer with KSES in 2017 as staff before returning in 2018 full-time and knows the community very well. Jade is a trustee of Thailand Elephants, a UK registered charity, and is extremely passionate about the welfare of Asian elephants and the plight they face throughout Asia. She makes it her mission to spread awareness of this global issue. Jade loves hula hooping, playing with poi’s and meeting new people.
Alex is our Volunteer and Research Coordinator and first joined us as a research intern in 2018 before coming back as staff. Originally from Tempa, Florida, she studied animal biology and psychology in the US, focusing her goals on working with elephants. She loves to travel and has worked with animals ranging from dogs to cheetahs to elephants. When not working, she spends most of her time with a book in her hand and a dog in her lap. .
Lauren Manna is a USA native who has joined us as our Volunteer and Teaching Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and earned her TEFL qualification last year. Lauren has been working with children of all ages in various capacities for over ten years; including as a preschool teacher, paraprofessional, recovery mentor, and domestic violence counselor. She has also worked with at-risk youth on various volunteer projects throughout Asia and Africa. When she isn’t working, Lauren loves climbing, gymnastics, and showing off her dogs and cat.
Leo is one of our mahouts and has also spent his life surrounded by elephants. He grew up in the Karen village our sanctuary is set in but has spent most of his time working in elephant camps. Our project has enabled him and his elephant to return home and spend more time with his family. Leo has been one of the main supporters of our sanctuary from the very beginning and helped a lot with the setup. When he's not spending time with his elephant, he can usually be found keeping himself busy building or fixing something around the village.
Bow is the mahout of Boon Rott and has been together with Boon Rott since he was a very young boy. As with all of our local staff, Bow is part of the Karen hilltribe and is the brother of Sombat. He left school to fulfill his dream of being a mahout and since then has not left Boon Rott's side.
Suh Gluh is the mahout of Dodo, who have been together for many years. He is from Sombat's family and has a very gentle nature especially with the elephants who he often brings treats for. Although Suh Gluh is still quite young, he has a lot that he could teach other mahouts about elephant care. Watching the interactions between Suh Gluh and Dodo is always a favorite from our visitors.
Baw Ha is the mahout of Mae Doom and enjoys spending time following her around the forest as well as making many different crafts out anything he can find in the forest! Baw Ha and Mae Doom have known each other all their lives, which you can easily tell from the great bond that they have with each other.
Pah Nok is the youngest member of our team and is very dedicated to our project and elephants. He is the mahout of Too Meh, our eldest elephant and despite the age gap, these pair are great together. Pah Nok enjoys the company of our guests and learning more about them as he teaches them about his culture.
Nutah is the mahout of Gen Thong and both of these are our the most playful members of our team. With their similar personalities they make a great pair and provide a lot of entertainment to observe them together and with the other mahouts and elephants.