An elephant has 'rescued' Darrick Thompson, 42, from drowning in a lake a year after the man saved it from captivity in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The video shows a four-year-old female elephant, Kham La, gallop into a river to save Thompson, who was swimming in the strong-flowing waters. When the elephant reaches Thompson, she uses her trunk to try and bring him to land.

The pair have a special bond which is what led Kham La to run into the water.

Staff at the reserve told CNN: "Since Thompson rescued Kham La, he spent time to heal her from the mental (anguish) and has shown love to her," the staff said.

"It's not long after that, she (made a) strong bond with him, and accepted him to be part of her herd."

The Save Elephant Foundation is dedicated to protecting Asian elephants.

The organisation states : "It is our mission to save the Asian elephant from extinction and give domesticated elephants a life worth living by preserving habitat and increasing public awareness on humane treatment practices".

The Foundation offers visitors and volunteers a look into the lives of free elephants who live in their natural habitat. The reserve is also the home to several other animals including cats, dogs and buffaloes.

Thompson who is from Toronto, Ontario moved to Thailand and is now taking care of elephants. He told said: "Kham Lha was in a really bad way when she came to us.

She had been tied up and forced to undergo cruel training known as 'crushing' to prepare her to work in the tourist industry."

Crushing is a method used in the animal tourism trade which is believed to divorce the elephant from its spirit and make it more submissive.

Thompson entered the river, pretended to drown and demonstrated their special bond. Once he reassured the elephant that he was fine he encouraged her to play with him in the water.