Elephant paints to highlight threats
Wed, 14 Mar 2012 11:36a.m.
More than 40 elephants in traditional Thai attire paraded into the centre of Nongnooch Tropical Garden and Zoo yesterday. They joined an ancient ritual aimed at boosting their moral strength.
The ritual was being held at the seaside town of Pattaya as it celebrated its annual Thai Elephant Day. The elephants later munched into a feast of food offerings, including fruits and vegetables.
Elephants have long been a tourist magnet in Thailand, with a number of elephant camps springing up across the nation.
Besides tourism, elephants also play a crucial role in Thai history. They were once considered a powerful weapon during wartime, thanks to their massive size and strength.
For centuries, they served as mount for the king and were seen as having helped the country safeguard its independence.
As a result, elephants are hailed as a national symbol and have close ties to the Thai monarchy.
Despite being revered by many, elephants in Thailand face several dangers - the country is a hub of the international black market for protected animals.
According to Manit Narinruk, deputy general manager of Nongnooch Tropical Garden and Zoo, more conservation efforts are needed to raise the animals' welfare.
"I still want to see more work done to improve their well-being as well as breeding programmes to increase their population," he said.
Highlighting threats against elephants, a nine-year-old male elephant wowed spectators when he picked up a paintbrush and wrote on a canvas in Thai "stop killing elephants".
Currently, there are fewer than 5,000 elephants left in Thailand. Last year several elephants were killed for their precious tusks and meat.
3 News / APTN
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