Elephant diplomacy relates to using elephants as a sign of diplomatic gestures. It is prevalent in South and Southeast Asia. For example, Thai monarchs, particularly King Bhumibol Adulyadej, have been known to present elephants as gifts to other nations, such as in 1960 when two white elephants were gifted to Japan. The symbolic gesture of the white elephant also carries significant cultural and religious importance in Thailand.
The use of elephants in this way can serve multiple purposes: to promote Thai culture, to strengthen diplomatic relations with other nations, and to raise awareness for elephant conservation efforts.
Elephant diplomacy could also refer to conservation efforts, illegal poaching, and ivory trade, which are important issues for many countries in Africa and Asia. It might involve international cooperation to protect elephants and their habitats and curb illicit activities.
Lastly, elephant diplomacy could represent a type of diplomacy that is slow, large-scale, and hard to manoeuvre, much like an elephant itself.