All You Need To Know About India’s only Elephant Ambulance

March 1, 2021 | By Mahima Sharma

Providing high quality care and comfort to injured, abused and ailing elephants is a mammoth task that Wildlife SOS has been dedicatedly working on from the past decade. The transportation of ailing elephants is one of our biggest challenges as even during the journey, they need proper care and treatment. For this purpose, Wildlife SOS introduced to the roads of India, the first Elephant Ambulance!

Presenting India's first Elephant Ambulance!
Presenting India’s first Elephant Ambulance! [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Weighing 10,330 kgs (over 11 tons), the Elephant Ambulance is specially designed to facilitate the smooth relocation of elephants from all across the country to the Wildlife SOS Elephant Rescue Centres. The Ambulance has been a regular feature in all our rescues which is why we put together this detailed blog about its unique features.

The Ambulance is designed not only for the comfort of the elephant but also for the rescue team. We have proper seating in place which can easily accommodate up to 6 people in the driver’s cabin. Since elephant emergencies require us to travel in all seasons ranging from the peak summers to the bone-chilling winters, there is climate control and air conditioning in place for such temperature variations.

The drivers and coordinators often take the front seat during the rescue journey.
The drivers and coordinators often take the front seat during the rescue journey. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The veterinary cabin is an important part of the Elephant Ambulance meant for the use of the doctors that accompany the team on the rescue operations. The elephants we rescue are in need of urgent medical attention which is why the veterinarians immediately start administering pain management medication during the journey.

The veterinary cabin also has sleeping arrangements for the rescue staff to rest
The veterinary cabin also has sleeping arrangements for the rescue staff to rest. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The cabin connects the holding area of the elephant with a protected contact wall which allows safe administration of medicine without putting the veterinarian, caregiver or the elephant at risk.

The protected contact wall allows safe interaction between elephant and the veterinary team.
The protected contact wall allows safe interaction between elephant and the veterinary team. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

There are also sleeping arrangements made in the veterinary cabin for the staff to rest. The two bunkers can allow two people to rest at the same time, which is essentially helpful when covering longer distances. There is a water storage tank that can store up to 50 litres of water to keep the elephant hydrated.

The water storage tank in the Elephant Ambulance.
The water storage tank in the Elephant Ambulance. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

The elephant holding area also has shower heads installed which is perfect for a quick shower especially during soaring temperatures.  This can also be covered with blankets and tarpaulin sheets during rain or when the elephant is being transported in cold weather.

Shower heads in the elephant holding area for a quick hose-down for the elephant during soaring temperatures
Shower heads in the elephant holding area for a quick hose-down for the elephant during soaring temperatures. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

To ensure that the elephant is comfortable during unsteady terrains, the elephant holding area is covered with a sheet so that the elephant does not sustain injuries. The drivers of the Ambulance are veterans and maintain a steady speed of 40 km per hour to ensure a safe and smooth journey.

The green covering prevents the elephant from hurting themselves from the metallic interiors
The green covering prevents the elephant from hurting themselves from the metallic interiors. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

There is sufficient storage inside the Ambulance which is ideal to keep sugarcane and green fodder for the elephant. Even though during the journey, our elephant rescue team halts every few hours to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, we usually keep a stock of sugarcane in the Ambulance.

The Elephant Ambulance is designed to provide utmost care and comfort to the rescued elephant and the staff.
The Elephant Ambulance is designed to provide utmost care and comfort to the rescued elephant and the staff. [Photo (c) Wildlife SOS/Mradul Pathak]

Finally, we have the hydraulic ramp which assists in safe boarding and disembarking of the elephant, and is then secured with locks so as to avoid any untoward situation.

The Elephant Ambulance is what brings the warriors home after they survive an exhausting ordeal in their life, and welcomes them to their new life. The safe rescue and rehabilitation of elephants is possible with your support and we are grateful to you for the same! To continue supporting our elephant conservation programme, please visit our website or donate to us by logging onto www.wildlifesos.org/donate

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