During ele bath time, we trek back to the center to watch the elephants do their thing. The founder and creator of the Elephant Nature Foundation, Lek, is speaking to a few of the volunteers. She is telling us a story regarding her latest crusade. A monk, the Queen's monk, who should be held in high regard, has been collecting dangerous (aggressive) male elephants and starving them to death in order to take their valuable ivory tusks and sell them. [He has been capturing and collecting the skins of tigers to make watchbands as well.] Lek ends up heated argument telling him he is involved in cruel and illegal activities and is getting ready to bring in police to have him arrested. She is warned that he is the Queen's monk and could get in trouble for speaking against him. She replies that she doesn't care who he is, what he is doing is wrong and illegal and she plans on going back to remove this elephant he has now. He has threatened to cut her throat. She says, 'Fine, I will bring my journalist and cameraman and they can capture how you, a monk, has cut my throat because I am exposing you for your corruptness and illegal activity.'
I am in awe of this 4’ 9” woman who fights everyday for what is right. Who will, as she stated, for the rest of her life speak up and do all in that is in her power to advocate for these animals and conservation in general. Her husband, Derrek (Canadian born and married to Lek in April 2010), agrees that Lek should expose this guy and that he will be right by her side backing her up (and obviously making sure she is not hurt). Lek is well respected by a multitude of animal right activists and other organizations that believe in her work. She also has those that oppose her, mostly traditionalists that are devoted to the old ways, that exploit and abuse these elephants. But her voice is being heard as she is able to draw volunteers and educate the public.
Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never been bit by a mosquito. Or met Lek.
And so naturally, I ask if I may have my picture taken with her, to which she smiles and nods emphatically, yes! Lek, you have my utmost respect.
Sabine, Lek, me: