The Circle of Life…

Life is a circle of happiness, sadness, hard times and good times: It is the circle of life that moves us through despair and hope, through faith and love, until we find our place in this crazy world of ours…


To say it has been an eventful couple of months would be an understatement! It feels like it has been a non stop whirlwind of emotions lately. We have had highs and we have had a lot of lows, but throughout it all, we have had each other and that is the one constant thing that keeps us united, strong and undeterred – we are family – you are a part of our family and when you hold hands with us, you become a part of our never ending circle of strength – every crisis faced together, makes our circle stronger.


All of us here at BLES are still haunted by our most recent losses – Naamfon, Hugh, Peanut Butter, Marmite and Somai… I firmly believe that losing a loved one, no matter how long they have touched your lives, no matter what life form they take on, is one the toughest things to come to terms with. My grief comes in waves. I have had moments of feeling ok, feeling like I have put the pain well and truly behind me, but then a certain sound or smell will reignite a memory and I will turn, believing I will see one of those beautiful faces beside me again, that they haven’t really left us…. And then it starts all over again – the tears fall, my heart hurts and I’m left feeling empty and confused…

The past hurts. You can run from it or learn from it…. Whichever path you chose, you have to keep going. There are beings depending on you, looking up to you and turning to you for strength and guidance. You can not let them down. Right?? Wrong!! I saw a very simple quote just days after losing our boys and it has really helped me move on from the angst. “You have to feel it, to heal it” – YES, you really do.

Many of you have been asking after Pang Tong, Lom and Mee Chok since the sudden passing of our patriarch here at Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary – BLES, three weeks ago.The truth is, these three elephants, Somai’s family, are heartbroken and showing signs of sadness and grief…


Lom has broken away from Pang Tong, seeking friendship and comfort from Thong Dee and Boon Thong, as well as spending an increased amount of time on her own.


Pang Tong, has lost some weight and shows little interest in grazing out in the forest. She seeks out Phi Lor, her trusty mahout of nine years and stays close to him during our daily walks… It is very upsetting to see Pang Tong, who has always been so strong, powerful and protective, showing signs of unhappiness and we hope that time will help ease her heartache.


Mee Chok has become highly aggressive and has been attacking both Pang Tong and Lom, stabbing them with his one long tusk. Neither of the girls will push back on him and again, it is so sad to see this disruptive behaviour from our youngest elephant.
Somai was a stable role model in Mee Chok’s life and always kept him in his place. Now, Mee Chok has lost that fatherly figure and it is obvious to us all, he is not sure how to behave now… Mee Chok has been spending an increased amount of time with Tong Jai, but Tong Jai does not have the same level of patience that Somai did.

Needless to say, we are taking each day as it comes and helping each other move through the grief that still consumes us all.

Somai was such an almighty and awesome bull and his presence is still hugely missed. The loss of Somai feels raw and very real for us all here and we want to thank you all for sending messages of condolences and support. They really do help ease the pain.

The day that Somai passed, there was a dragonfly that hovered around his body, until he was buried. Since Somai’s burial, many of us have noticed and commented on the increased population of dragonflies around BLES.
In the photo below, you can see a dark red dragonfly resting on the wire of the day enclosure… Pang Tong and Lom appear to be looking at the dragonfly…. Make of that what you will, but we are sure the girls could feel Somai’s energy from the dragonfly. He is with us, he surrounds us and Somai’s legacy will live on through our newest project – The Friend’s of Somai Initiative (Save the Bulls of Baan Tuek). You can read all about it here –


We are so thankful to all of you who believe in the Friend’s of Somai initiative just as much as we do and helped us reach our fundraising goal in record time. Together, you have enabled us to offer a forever home to four elderly bulls who’s futures were bleak, until BLES reached out to them.

We have been busy preparing for the arrival of Nwon, Ngor, Moo and Sompord and are ready to walk with them through the forest between the village of Baan Tuek and BLES on the 1st December!



Our most recent rescue, Pretty Permpoon, has literally gone from strength to strength these past few weeks. Permpoon arrived on the 21st October a broken old lady. Unwilling to trust, she would shove us away and refuse to accept our offerings of love and understanding.  With ten years of experience under our belt, we all knew exactly what Permpoon needed. She was in need of time, emotional support, unconditional respect and freedom and that is precisely what she got.


Yesterday, I sat on the bank by the river and watched some of our elephants play in the water. They grazed on the thorny bushes sprouting all around and took great pleasure in throwing large amounts of wet and sloppy mud all over their heads and backs. The sun was beaming down and the sky was once again alive with dragonflies. As I sat, smiling and watching, one elephant in particular caught my eye. She walked slowly, but confidently from one side of the bank to the other, passing several of our other rescued elephants as she did. She stopped briefly to exchange trunk touches with Boon Thong and then stood with her feet in the river. She remained motionless for a few minutes, as if she was breathing in the stillness. She then reached in to the water and sucked up a trunk full of glorious mud and threw it over her back, lifting her trunk high in to the air and smiling as she did. The minutes melted in to hours and Permpoon continued to cover her old bones with the river water. Thong Dee joined in and stood beside Permpoon echoing her movements and immersing herself in the joy of freedom. Boon Thong watched on from the shade of the huge bamboo bushes and Pang Suai and Pang Noi gazed over occasionally  from across the river as they grazed on long fresh blades of grass.  Wassana, Lotus and Pang Dow interrupted the quiet chorus of the birds with their squeaks and grumbles of joy from around the corner, as they splashed and thrashed around in the river and for a minute, I put down the camera, closed my eyes and welcomed the tears that fell. For the first time, in what has felt like the longest time, they were not tears of grief or sadness. They were tears of delight, tears of peace. They were tears full of love, pride and the realisation that life, despite it’s tragedies, does in deed, go on….





  1. Maria Teresa Mauri · November 29, 2015

    Beautifully written Katherine. I cant wait to see all the photos and stories about the four gentlemen bulls joining your family at Boon Lott.


  2. the catalan way · November 29, 2015

    So beautiful – my tears also started when I read about the increasing happiness and peace of Permpoon. So good to be part of this wonderful family. lots of love Kate


  3. Henn Beavis · November 29, 2015

    Thank you Katherine. Beautifully written. I was transported to that time and place. Hearing only the soft sighs of nature and the drone of insects. Now THAT was lie a meditation. No wonder you cried as the pain finally let go and left you in peace. xxx


  4. carol gurreri · November 29, 2015

    my eyes are full of tears..thinking what a wonderful life you given to these suffering GOD’S creatures.Whatever time they have left you gave them….health..caring..they will never forget.


  5. Coranne Plummer · November 29, 2015

    Katherine your words are so strong and gentle at the same time. As I type trough the tears I am ever so grateful for your labor of LOVE. You and your Husband have made an amazing life for our Elephants. I thank you for the work that you and yours do. You ARE making a difference. Love & Light …Your Canadian


  6. Kathleen · November 29, 2015

    Beautiful..crying as I read your heartfelt words..thank you. Hopefully the new boys will be an inspiration to Mee Chok.


  7. Susan Lantow · November 29, 2015

    It would be great if one of the new bulls took Mee Chock under his trunk and helps guide him to healing. Thank you BLES for everything you do for all the animals and humans in your care.


  8. Barbara Sadler · November 29, 2015

    Yes…The Circle of Life. So beautifully said.
    I cry with you for all the same reasons….Just knowing you are there, doing all the good you do, makes it all easier to bear. I don’t have enough words to thank you. Looking forward to photos and feeling more joyous again when the new rescues arrive.


  9. Peggy Powell · November 29, 2015

    I never met her, but I miss Naamfon greatly. She was an inspiration. Crying here too. Looking forward to a joyous 2016.


  10. Joanie Alex Gohr · November 30, 2015

    Beautiful, thank you for being you.


  11. Dharmapaalini · November 30, 2015

    We share your tears and joy all over the world.


  12. Jo Winstone · November 30, 2015

    Another sensitive, beautiful blog Katherine. There’s not a day goes past when I don’t think of Naamfon, Somai, Hugh, Marmite and Peanut Butter. There are so many people sharing your sorrow – I hope it helps you through your grief. A new chapter begins tomorrow when you bring home the bulls. Four families lives are about to change forever. Thank you so very much…… xxxx


  13. evelynbles · November 30, 2015

    Beautiful and from your heart.
    I know how overwhelming the grief and sense of loss is for you, but how perfectly you have created a living memorial to your 4 wonderful,irreplaceable boys, lost so tragically and without any hint or warning.
    Somai, Hugh, Marmite and Peanut Butter will live on in all of our hearts, but now also, they live on in the 4 new boys/men you will be bringing to BLES tomorrow.
    Those 4 bulls have been given a new life, a BLES’d life.
    I know they will thrive and that every day, we will remember our 4 loved and lost ones, as we watch these bulls grow, from the inside out.
    Love is all around at BLES.
    Thank you xxx


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