Life in the jungle has been Surin “Eet” Jaitrong’s world since he fell in love with his first elephant at the age of 19.
As a mahout – or elephant caretaker – in the southern Thai province of Phang-nga, Jaitrong grew up living with elephants. Today, at age 45, he lives a fulfilling life caring for Plai Gaew, a 48-year-old male elephant.
Each morning, Jaitrong treks out to the forest to bring Plai Gaew in for a scrub bath and a day of tourist rides. When the sun fades, Jaitrong returns Plai Gaew to his jungle home that sustains him with food, medicinal plants and boundless freedom.
Because of their unique bond, Plai Gaew is not just Jaitrong’s elephant. Together, they are supporting each other as family.