Friday Future Lister: Trunk Tales—Dr. Alongkot’s Extraordinary Elephant Ambulance and Conservation Fund

His efforts not only highlight his dedication to safeguarding the welfare of elephants but also reflects his innovative thinking and deep empathy with wildlife.

It’s Friday again which means Friday Future Lister is calling. Today, we’re taking a moment to appreciate the work of Dr. Alongot Chukaew, elephant researcher turned educator, advocate, and founder of the Thai Elephant Research and Conservation.

Dr. Alongkot's mission revolves around raising awareness within society about the importance of active participation in safeguarding elephants. His objective is to establish what he calls a "human fence," a concept aimed at protecting wild elephants. Leveraging his years of dedicated research on Thai elephants, he has chosen to channel his expertise towards fostering consciousness and advocating for animal welfare and environmental issues.

To achieve this goal, Dr. Alongkot organises workshops and camps targeting school children, both at his forest sanctuary in Khao Yai and in remote rural communities. These efforts serve to educate the younger generation to these important matters. 

A talented musician, he extends his reach to marginalised groups, including the visually impaired and those on the autism spectrum. Here, he also employs both elephants and music as powerful instruments to connect and educate.

The Mobile Elephant Ambulance

Dr. Alongkot had been working with elephants for over ten years before establishing the Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund. Eventually, he realised that the key was to provide accurate knowledge and understanding about these magnificent creatures. It was with this in mind that he made the decision to create the Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund, aiming to establish techniques for addressing elephant-related issues, fostering learning, and leading to the engagement of society in this process.

Ultimately, Dr. Alongkot introduced the nation's first mobile ambulance unit for elephants, an initiative designed to promptly provide medical aid. In the past, the challenge with elephant care often had to do with transportation. Many times, they were unable to survive due to illnesses and accidents, mainly because they couldn't be transported to the veterinarian in time. One of the reasons was that owners often lacked the funds to hire vehicles.

Before the ambulance came to fruition, transport usually involved regular trucks that could be hired for the task. However, it was quite challenging moving sick or injured elephants as accidents were involved, such as the overturning of trucks due to  inadequate design for transporting large animals. 

Dr. Alongkot has created a platform that not only provides care and sanctuary but also serves as an educational hub for both the younger generation and those with special needs. Through his tireless work, Dr. Alongkot has shown that passion, expertise, and compassion can drive meaningful change. Most of all, Dr. Alongkot has undoubtedly left a lasting mark on the world of elephant conservation.