Ten teams will compete in the 14th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, which will be held in on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok for the first time. The event raises money for charity.
The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament will be held on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, Thailand, from 10 to 13 March 2016.
Almost US$1 million has been raised over the years, with proceeds going toward projects that are designed to better the lives of Thailand’s wild and domesticated elephant population.
More than 40 players playing on 10 teams will compete this year. Included will be Thai celebrities, professional horse polo players, New Zealand All Blacks rugby players, and Thailand’s famous transgender cabaret team, Miss Tiffany.
The tournament will kick off with an Opening Parade. A Children’s Educational Day, Ladies Day, and other festive activities will follow.
Elepant Polo 101
The sport originated in Nepal. In addition to Nepal, elephant polo is played in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.
England and Scotland often field elephant polo teams.
The pitch is three quarters of the length of a standard polo pitch because elephants move much slower than horses.
Two players ride atop each elephant – a polo player and a mahout, who steers the elephant.
Not sure what the elephants make of all this. In 2007, an elephant went on a rampage during a game in Sri Lanka and injured 2 players while destroying one of the team’s minibuses.
Is elephant polo ethical? I really can’t say. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals don’t think so, and references to elephant polo records have been removed from the Guinness Book of World Records.
The elephants taking part in the King’s Cup, however, were reputedly rescued from the streets of Bangkok. I’m sure the elephants are getting better treatment than they were before.
Elephant Safari Lodge
A mahout riding an elephant at the Elephant Safari Lodge in Bali. Photo Credit: Accidental Travel Writer.
I spent 2 nights at the Elephant Safari Lodge in Taro, Bali, and I thought that for the most part the elephants seemed to be well treated.
According to what I was told, the captive elephants had all been rescued because of either injuries or illness and might not have survived in the wilds. Some of the elephants were born into captivity at the site.
The elephants were called into service 5 times a day, if I remember correctly. They transported hotel guests to meals and took them on treks through the jungle.
Hotel guests also had the opportunity to help bathe the elephants and could ride on their backs in a pond.
Each elephant was assigned a mahout, so a personal relationship developed. When the elephants weren’t “on duty”, they could wander freely through a spacious area.
But I DID have one reservation: I didn’t like some of the tricks that the elephants were forced to perform – such as walking along very narrow planks and up and down steps.
The elephants looked VERY unsure of themselves.
I’ve never seen elephant polo, but I did witness conventional polo once in Tianjin, China, and it WAS a magnificent spectacle.
I wonder what the horses made of all that?