Elephants have always played an integral part in Thai culture and Thai history. All Thai kings had a stable of white elephants.
His royal highness, king Bhumibol Adulyadej has got 11 white elephants.
Doubtless, the most eminent of them is the 47 years old white elephant Phra Savet Adulyadej pahon.
The animals once decorated the national flag and currency. Only ten years ago Thailand still had 4000 elephants. Nowadays only 2500 remain.
Although revered by many Asian cultures, the Asian elephant is being pushed to extinction. The remaining populations are mostly small, isolated, and fragmented because their ancient migratory routes and habitat have been disrupted by expanding human encroachment.
The forest surface has decreased a lot due to deforestation and plantations and now only represent 26 % of Thailand, poaching and conflicts with farmers have hit Thai elephants very hard.
Asian elephants are ‘flagship’ species for their habitats – that is, charismatic representatives of the biodiversity within the complex ecosystems they inhabit. Since these large animals need a lot of space to survive, their conservation will help maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity over extensive areas and as a result help many other species