The doctor who championed wildlife protection in Thailand

Giants in History: Thai physician and conservationist Boonsong Lekagul (15 December 1907 – 9 February 1992) made major contributions to the preservation of his country’s wildlife by founding organizations including the Association for the Conservation of Wildlife (ACW), writing about Thailand’s natural heritage, and supporting conservation initiatives.

Trained as a medical doctor, Lekagul also established Thailand’s first polyclinic in Bangkok in 1935. An avid hunter at first, Lekagul turned his attention to conservation when he realised that Thailand’s forests were becoming fragmented, threatening its wildlife. In the mid-1950s, he and the ACW lobbied for a bird sanctuary on the banks of the Chao Phraya River to protect the country’s only known openbill stork nesting site. In 1962, Lekagul founded the Bangkok Bird Club, now known as the Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, and worked closely with the International Council for Bird Preservation, now BirdLife International, and the World Wildlife Fund to conserve Thailand’s birds and nature. Passionate about education and outreach, Lekagul published conservation news in English and Thai and created educational pamphlets on the topic for school children. Among his works are Bird Guide of Thailand, the Field Guide tothe Butterflies of Thailand, and Mammals of Thailand. A talented artist, Lekagul also created the illustrations for his publications. In recognition of Lekagul's contributions as a conservationist, several animals have been named for him, including two species of birds, a bat, a squirrel and a snake. (Photo courtesy of The Bird Conservation Society of Thailand)

Published: 12 May 2022

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