On May 26 1998, the Thai government declared that March 13 would annually be Thai National Elephant Day or Chang Thai Day. The observance was suggested by the Asian Elephant Foundation of Thailand and submitted to the Coordinating Subcommittee for the Conservation of Thai Elephants. The date was chosen because the Royal Forest Department designated the white elephant as the national animal of Thailand on March 13 1963.
Thai people have had a close-knit relationship with elephants since ancient times, with the elephant playing a significant role in transportation, labour and battle. Considered the national animal of Thailand, the elephant has faced threats to its existence because of habitat invasion by humans and climate change, amongst other factors. The number of Thai elephants has been reduced from 100,000 to 2,000–3,000 wild elephants and about 2,700 domesticated elephants over the past 100 years.