World Elephant Day 2012 (PHOTOS)

The Elephant Reintroduction Foundation has declared August 12, 2012 its first World Elephant Day, a day of awareness in which it asks people to "express concern, share knowledge and support solutions for the better care of captive and wild elephants alike."

World Elephant Day's website shares information and resources, including links to elephant conservation groups around the world. There is also an official World Elephant Day Facebook page, with image galleries.

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Founded as a royal initiative of Thailand's Queen Sirikit in 2002, the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation's main mission is to "acquire either through donation or purchase captive elephants and reintroduce them to protected forest habitat to live as wild elephants."

African and Asian elephants face danger around the world due to poaching, hunting, habitat destruction and mistreatment in captivity. According to the Foundation, "an insatiable lust for ivory products in Asian markets" has fueled a dramatic decline in African elephant populations since last year.

Story continues with GRAPHIC video below.

Elephant Overload

Although there are challenges, progress is being made. In June, Gabon burned its government stockpile of more than 5.5 tons of elephant tusks and ivory carvings as a message against elephant poaching, Scientific American reported.

Gabon established an antipoaching military force in 2011, and has a "policy of zero tolerance for wildlife crime," according to a statement by President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Want to continue the elephant celebration? Get ready for Elephant Appreciation Day next month!

WATCH the GRAPHIC video released by WWF from the scene of the killing of hundreds of elephants in a Cameroon national park:

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