CHIANG MAI, Thailand - Thailand banned logging from forests in 1989, a blessing and curse for its working elephants (and for their masters, known as mahouts).

They were sold for logging in neighboring Myanmar or ended up in circuses, sideshows, zoos and camps giving rides to tourists. Many were abandoned, and some starved to death.

For years, Sangduen Chailert, known as Lek, had felt in her heart that she had to save the Asian elephants of her childhood in northern Thailand.

In 1996, she founded the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai province. It is home to around 40 elephants, most of them injured or old, all of them rescued by Lek.

"They think of me as one of the herd."