Bangkok (VNA/NNT) – Thailand's Prime Minister has called on all sectors of society to protect Thai elephants as March 13 marked the National Elephant Day in Thailand.

In his national televised address, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said elephants are sacred animals that represent Thai kings as well as the kingdom. The way of life of Thai people is connected to elephants whose contributions have been recognized since ancient times.

Since the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) and the current administration took office, he said Thailand’s effort in fight against illegal ivory trade has been acknowledged by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

He said the government was determined to turn an elephant reserve in Surin Province into a tourist destination, hoping to attract more foreign visitors.

He said European and Japanese tourists have a huge admiration for elephants.

The province of Ayutthaya organized a religious ceremony to mark the National Elephant Day.

Ayutthaya is hosting a merit-making ceremony and an elephant feast in celebration of the auspicious occasion. The event took place at the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace.

At present, the palace houses more than 160 elephants. In the past 20 years, 72 female elephants have given birth to their young.

Meanwhile in Songkhla province, Songkhla Zoo hosted an elephant buffet festival on March 13 to raise public awareness of elephant welfare and conservation issues. Visitors were also allowed to express their feelings towards elephants on elephant dung paper.-VNA