Meet Our Team

Elephant park

Jakrapob Thaotad (Jake)

Jake is our managing director and co-owner. He established Phang Nga Elephant Park in January 2015 with his cousin Lek. Having studied clinical microbiology in London, Jake applies his expert knowledge by undertaking regular routine health checks, and the office can be quickly turned into a veterinary laboratory. Jake’s family has owned elephants for generations and he cares deeply about their health and improving welfare.

Get in touch:

Email: jakrapob@phangngaelephantpark.com
Phone: +66 8 5351 5536

Elephant park

Sittisak Songkaw (Lek)

Lek is our head mahout (elephant handler) and co-owner of the Park. His father and grandfather before him were mahouts and he has dedicated his life to elephants since he was six years old. In Southern Thailand, Lek is a well-respected mahout and he now dedicates himself to his own family Park. Lek is committed to creating the best possible environment for our elephants and promoting ethical animal-human interactions.

Ethical elephant park

Prakairat Songkaw (Ness)

Ness is the Park’s coordinator and accountant. She is married to Lek and lives with him and their children in the Park. In the past, Ness was a hotel front office manager and so is very familiar with dealing with customers and their needs. Having been married to a mahout for over 20 years, caring for elephants has been a major part of her daily life.

Nhithipree Nonbunyanatapak (Keng)

Keng is the newest addition to the park. After living in New York for a year, he has decided to come back to Thailand. He has always taken an interest in animal welfare and would like to be more involved in elephant conservation. He will be doing guided tours of the park and applying his expert chef knowledge to the Thai cooking class in our Mahout life experience.

Volunteers

We encourage volunteers to come and work at the Park for periods of 3-6 months. There is a strict selection process and applicants must be committed to elephant welfare, customer service and be prepared to work hard. In exchange, we can promise a very rewarding stay (living in a personal Mahout hut in the Park), a life-enhancing experience with elephants and a gastronomic delight. Interested individuals should contact Jake in the first instance and send a CV to info@phangngaelephantpark.com

Volunteer elephant park

Marcial Sommer

Marcial has worked with us twice as a Volunteer and was so successful he became our Assistant Director. He is from Switzerland and obtained his degree in tourism management. He was with us for five months in 2016 and a further three months in 2017. He says he gained a lot of work experience to help him with his future career in the tourism industry. Marcial got involved with almost all aspects of our work, including guiding tours, taking photographs, maintaining the website and developing our social media platforms. His knowledge of languages, English, French and German, was very helpful for our visitors. He is a passionate photographer and other than on the website you can find his shots of the Park on Instagram and Facebook.

Volunteer with elephants

Anna Makin

Anna was our English teacher. She is from England and after graduating with a degree in medicinal chemistry completed the CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) qualification. She then went to teach English in South America for seven months and has been involving herself in different conservation projects. During her time with us, in addition to working as a guide, she taught basic English to the customer facing staff in our Park. She is now back in UK but keeps in regular touch with us!

Reiss

Reiss Bush

Reiss is studying zoology at the University of Sheffield and spent his summer vacation as a Volunteer at the Park. He has worked with wildlife in South Africa, Kuwait and Honduras as well as in UK so was delighted to extend his knowledge to the Asian elephant. He was very good at explaining the work of the Park to our visitors who are always fascinated to learn more about the elephant and why it is such a magnificent animal. Tangthai was very sad to see Reiss leave

Peter

Peter Blakemore

Peter was a Volunteer with us just before he took up a place to read medical engineering at the University of Cardiff. His parents and little brother, Taylor, had previously visited the Park and their enthusiasm encouraged him to apply for the position. He also enjoyed seeing something of the beautiful sites near Phang Nga including the famous James Bond Island and Koh Panyee, the floating Muslim village in the magical Phang Nga Bay.

Tom

Tom Rainford

Tom came for six months in September 2016 but we were delighted when he asked to extend until June 2017. Although he is half-Thai, Tom, who is 22, was born and raised in UK so he enjoyed learning some of the language and immersing himself in Thai culture. Tom already has  a diploma in animal management and starts his degree course in Wildlife Conservation at Liverpool John Moores University in September 2017. He came to the Park to broaden his experience of working directly with animals in a different biological environment and has loved every minute of it. Tom has been a fantastic asset to the team during his stay and his passion for our work has been wonderful. We wish him well in the future and we know we will see him back at the Park soon!

Joe

Joe Dixon

Joe is 22 and comes from Bury St Edmunds. He has always been a wildlife enthusiast and dreamed of working with animals from a young age. Since then, he has built on his passion in film and in 2016 achieved his Bachelor’s degree in film and television at the University of Portsmouth. He is a keen film-maker and aspires to be a wildlife cameraman. He made a couple of documentaries and promotional films for us during his six month stay at the Park and these can be seen on the website (see Gallery, Video gallery) and on Facebook. He brought with him an extensive range of photographic kit including a drone, which somehow survived a few crashes. He was a great member of the team and we wish him all the best for the future.

Claudia Sollitt

Claudia is 25 and comes from Hull. She loves working with different people and putting herself into various environments and cultures and is very excited to be in Thailand. She has worked in America teaching horse riding at summer camp to children of all ages, and  then volunteered in Ghana for six months where she taught in the local schools and helped care for children in sickness and in health. She has always been an animal lover so getting to work alongside the elephants and learning more about them is a wonderful experience. She has a BTEC national diploma in sport and is a great addition to our 2017 team.

Blaid Raybould

Blaid is 23 and lives in York. In 2018 he will complete his degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle.  He loves South-east Asia and in 2011 with 16 others he led an exhibition to Cambodia and Vietnam to work with children with HIV/AIDS and then in a hospital for the mentally ill. He visited Phang Nga Elephant Park in January 2017 as a tourist and wrote to apply to be a Volunteer. We are delighted to welcome him back. He says he is thrilled to have the opportunity to use his skills in relationship building and to inspire others. He promises to work tirelessly to drive the mission statement of the Park and to help improve the experience of those who visit it.

Matt Mitchell

Matt is 19 and lives in Toongabbie, NSW, Australia. He is currently studying Captive Animal Studies at Richmond College, Western Sydney. Matt’s goal is to secure full time employment in the animal care industry where he wants to follow his passion for education and conservation. At home, Matt volunteers as a wildlife rescuer and carer for Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services. He also works as an educator for a mobile zoo. In 2016, he visited Thailand to work as a volunteer building a safe house for children vulnerable to human trafficking. During his stay, he visited Phang Nga Elephant Park where he met Tom (see above) who showed such amazing passion for the work he was doing it led Matt to apply to be a volunteer. He considers it a lifetime opportunity. He is also a Red belt in Hapkido – so Mahouts watch out!

Jess Ayre

Jess is our newest Volunteer and celebrated her 21st birthday at the Park! She is from Devon and is about to enter the final year of her BA in Marketing at the University of Plymouth in UK. Jess is a fantastic photographer as you can see from our Facebook page. She has a farming background and a passion for elephants, although there are not too many in rural Devon. Jess feels strongly about the need for organisations like ours that help the public engage with the species in a sustainable and responsible manner. She is a super member of the team.

Cafeteria

Our lovely restaurant staff makes sure our visitors are well cared for. They serve a variety of drinks, snacks and traditional Thai food. Here you are looked after by Pan who always provides a smile, some delicious fresh pineapple and other delights.

Cafeteria