The national event began in 1998, initiated by wildlife conservationists to remind Thais of the significance of elephants. It also serves as a reminder for people to help support efforts to protect them from poaching.
For several decades, the pachyderms have been part of the country's tourist attractions as they are trained to perform in shows and give tourists rides around cities. The deputy manager of the Ayutthaya Elephant Kraal & Village, Riengthongbaht Meepan, said the tourist industry is the 'lightest job' for the pachyderms, for them and their handlers to be able to make a comfortable living.
There are about 3,500 elephants left in the wildlife sanctuaries across Thailand, according to the Thai Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department.