CHIANG RAI – Every year government and private organizations will underline the importance of elephants and heighten public awareness of the need for preservation of elephants.
In Chiang Rai’s Muang district, Kariang Ruammit Ville, the province’s only elephant raising village, held a ritual to ask for blessings from 32 elephants and their mahouts, attended by Thai and foreign tourists. It was followed by a feast of fruit for the elephants. The village’s elephant camp, offering elephant riding services, was closed for the day.
In celebration of Thai Elephant Day 2014, Surin province, which is regarded as the land of elephants, will organize a big gathering of elephants to show the strong intention of local people to take good care of elephants.
The province will announce that the solving of elephant-related problems will be included in its agenda. Elephants hold a significant place in Thailand. They also form an important part of Thai culture and national symbols. Because of the significance of this animal in Thai life, the plight of elephants is always the pain of Thai people.
Several elephants have been brought to the city to find food and make a living for mahouts. There were news reports about elephants facing accidents and falling sick.
Many agencies involved have joined forces in keeping domesticated elephants out of the city streets.
A project has been launched to recruit mahouts to be trained as forest rangers, with the help of their elephants.
This will bring elephants back to their natural habitat, so that they can have a natural way of living.
Another project seeks to promote eco-tourism with elephants as a magnet for tourists.
The Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang province is a place where elephants are featured prominently in eco-tourism. Several national parks have also been developed into eco-tourist sites where visitors will be able to see elephants in their natural habitat.
In order to promote elephant conservation, the Surin Provincial Administrative Organization is pushing for a project known as “Elephant World” to care for elephants. It expects that the Elephant World will become a major tourism attraction in Thailand. The Elephant World will be established on an area of about 3,000 rai or 1,200 acres.
It will be developed as a study center for learning about elephants and the way of life of elephant raisers. The project requires a budget of more than 400 million baht.
Surin province will organize a merit-making ceremony and a grand elephant procession to celebrate Thai Elephant Day 2014. More than 300 elephants have been registered in this province.
Aware of the importance of elephant conservation, the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand and related non-governmental organizations in 1998 proposed that there should be a special day for elephants in Thailand. The proposal was submitted to the Coordinating Subcommittee for the Conservation of Thai Elephants under the National Identity Board. The Coordination Committee decided to pick 13 March each year as Thai Elephant Day, based on the fact that the Royal Forest Department designated the white elephant as the national animal of Thailand on 13 March 1963.
In May 1998, the Cabinet approved the designation of 13 March as Thai Elephant Day every year, 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.