Thailand today (March 13) celebrated the National Elephant Day with various elephant camps and zoos across the country holding activities to promote elephat protection.
Some elephant parks also held Buddhist rituals where the animals are thoroughly scrubbed and showered before monks are invited to perform ceremonies to wipe away bad luck and wish for good luck for the elephants and their mahouts.
In Ayutthaya, plenty of banquets of fruits and canes are prepared for the elephant.
In Chiang Mai, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center also held a big festival that featured the blessing ceremony executed by Buddhist monks. Large crowds come together to get blessed together with elephants.
At the Mae Sa Elephant Camp, dozens of elephants there to be treated to a huge feast of fruits and sugar cane.
At Nong Nooch tropical botanic garden in Chon Buri, a religious ceremony was held with 87 elephants taking part. The elephants were later offered a huge buffet of fruits and canes to enjoy.
According to the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, there are currently 3,341 wild elephants in Thailand.
Five forests with largest number of wild elephants are the western forest complex with 642-734 elephants; Kaeng Krachan forest (487-500); Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai (501); Phu Khiew-Nam Nao (489); and eastern forest complex (423).
Naris Bhumpakphan, of Kasetsart University’s faculty of forestry, said with an increasing population, wild elephant is no longer on near-extinction list.
However, the major problem now was how to solve human-wild elephant conflicts, he said.
In May 1998, the Cabinet approved the designation of March 13 as Thai Elephant Day, starting in 1999. The decision was aimed at raising and sustaining public awareness of the importance of elephants. It is also designed to promote public participation in elephant preservation.