Who We Are
Our award winning 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. We have won the Responsible Thailand Community Based Tourism Award, been commended by The World Responsible Tourism Animal Welfare Award and Thailand Green Excellence Animal Welfare Award.Kindred Spirit Elephant Sanctuary was founded by Kerri McCrea & Sombat.Wirakhwamdee
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!
Alex is our Project Assistant 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.
Carly is our Research and Volunteer Coordinator, originally from the USA, she has a bachelors degree in Environmental Biology and Studio Art from Tulane University in New Orleans. She is passionate about conservation and worked with multiple NGOs in New Orleans and abroad focused on environmental education. Carly also first joined us as a research intern in 2018 and is now excited to call KSES her home! When not researching elephants, she enjoys travelling, doodling or loving on the village animals.
Zabby Taljaard is our Volunteer and Teaching Coordinator hailing from South Africa. Her qualifications include a bachelor degree in in science, a post graduate in education and a TEFL. She has experience teaching all ages from preschool to corporate training and everything in between, which is a great addition to the team. Outside of teaching, Zabby also has a love of cooking, baking and playing her ukulele.
Leo is our community liaison and guide 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 leading us on hikes, 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.
Su Chee is the mahout of Too Meh and enjoys spending time following her around the forest as well as making many different crafts out anything he can find! Su Chee is a very experience mahout and has been watching over elephants since he was six years old. He provides a lot of guidance and advice to the younger mahouts and is a great asset to the team.
Banada Ahbah is probably the shiest member of our team but is very dedicated to our project and elephants. He is the mahout of Mae Doom and they really are a great pair! They have known each other now for a few years and they are forming a great bond together.
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.