Nong Nooch Tropical Garden celebrated Thai Elephant Day with a call to stop the ivory trade.
Sattahip Mayor Phawat Lertmukda, Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Athapol Wannakij, and Chonburi livestock officials joined park General Manager Phattanan Khantisukphan at the March 13 exhibition attended by students, tourists and government officials.
Nong Nooch organized an elephant parade and invited Jum Nhujan, 59, of Chaiyaphum to perform the “baisree” ceremony for elephants and to spray holy water over mahouts and 52 pachyderms for prosperity.
Elephants enjoy a festive meal on Thai Elephant Day at Nong Nooch Tropical Gardens.
Elephant “Baitoey” drew a Christmas tree and one named “Yok” wrote “Stop killing me to take my tusks” with its trunk, a message that garnered boisterous applause from the audience.
At a meeting in Bangkok earlier this month, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora placed Thailand and seven other countries on “probation” for supplying, transporting and consuming ivory obtained through the slaughter of wild elephants. CITES demanded that the kingdom and other members of the “gang of eight” swiftly develop action plans to stop the ivory trade or face international trade bans on all wildlife-related products.
Thailand is grouped as a “consumer” offender of elephant tusks. While import or export of ivory is prohibited, it’s legal to buy and sell ivory domestically, which critics said has made it easy for smugglers to launder African ivory inside the kingdom. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra admitted prior to the CITES meeting that Thailand’s domestic-ivory laws may need changing.
Nong Nooch marketing manager Jeeraphrit Sodphermphunlap said Thai Elephant Day is celebrated every year to recall the role the mammals have played in the hearts and history of the kingdom. He said it was a perfect opportunity to highlight the battle elephants around the world against extinction.