Thai students, elephants march for animals killed in Australian bushfires

Thai children hold photos showing the damage caused by bushfires in Australia while domesticated elephants hold placards reading 'Pray For Australia' at an elephant camp in Ayutthaya, Thailand,  on Jan 13, 2020.
Thai children hold photos showing the damage caused by bushfires in Australia while domesticated elephants hold placards reading 'Pray For Australia' at an elephant camp in Ayutthaya, Thailand, on Jan 13, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AYUTTHAYA, Thailand (REUTERS) - A troupe of elephants and school students held a silent march at a Thai elephant camp on Monday (Jan 13) to pay their respects and raise awareness for the millions of animals killed in Australia's raging bushfires.

Elephants and their mahouts held up placards saying "Pray for Australia", with pictures and cartoons of animals at the event organised by the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal, a local tourist attraction.

"Today I want to send my support to all wild animals in Australia. I want all the animals to hang in there, and I want all of them in Australia to stay alive," said primary school student Laksaporn Loetpiriyakamol.

The Australian government has called the bushfires crisis engulfing the country "an ecological disaster", with up to a billion animals killed or at risk in the aftermath.

Those affected include populations of koalas and rock wallabies, along with critically endangered species including the regent honeyeater bird and the western ground parrot.

"The elephants are really sad what's happening for their cousins in Australia," said Michelle Reedy, an Australian volunteer at the camp.

Elephants are culturally significant in Thailand. They are the South-east Asian kingdom's national animal and are important in its history and literature.