view more projects

Mahouts of BLES

BLESĀ (Boon Lott's Elephant Sancturary)
Sukhothai, Thailand
Volunteer Program
BLESĀ is devoted to providing a safe and natural home for 11 rescued and retired elephants on 750 acres of land in Northern Thailand.

Phi Juke, Mahout for Mr. Moo

Founded in 2007 by Katherine Connor, BLES is a safe haven for elephants who have endured years of trauma and toxic environments. Tucked away in northern Thailand on 750 acres of forested land, BLES provides a life of dignity in a peaceful home, with minimal interactions with humans, save for their designated mahouts.

Typically in the background, and often stigmatized, mahouts can easily be labeled as the elephant's enemy. However, the relationship between the two isn't always so black and white. Especially for captive elephants that cannot return to the wild, this relationship is necessary in order for them to be cared for. But it can exist without harm and with respect. At BLES, each mahout regards his elephant as a member of his own family. Their unique relationship requires interdependent verbal and physical communication that will only work with mutual trust and patience. Each elephant has a different story to tell, and the mahout who listens can help us hear it.

Phi Tien, Mahout for Pang Fai

Boo Dum, Mahout for Nwon

In sync, every day.

Phi Loy, Mahout for Wassana

Every day at BLES, each mahout guides his elephant out into the forest, and for hours he quietly watches and waits. This is the elephant's time to forage, rest or roam, to socialize, or to be alone. Every day is different but the intention is the same - safely provide as much autonomy as possible.

Phi Gwang, Mahout for Pang Suai

Small fires to ward off mosquitos.

Trust and Respect

To learn more about Boon Lott's Elephant Santuary, and how you can support, visit

view more projects