If the game of polo on horses is already famous by itself and it is practiced in several countries around the world, from Pakistan to Nepal. In Thailand, the same as in Nepal, the polo on elephants has become a national sport and also very well attended, played by the Mogol king’s in India, relived since the decade of the 80´s.

Each team is composed by three elephants with their mahout, (the person that guides the pachyderm). The player has to hit the ball, with their bamboo stick finishing it by a hammer, of 1.80 meters long. The field measures 90 by 55 meters. The game is divided in two periods of seven minutes each, with an interval of 15 minutes.



It results very impressive to watch the heavy and imposing animals to run at more than 24 km per hour behind a small ball, it seems that they are not able to stop and they could demolish everything in their way.

Sometimes, because they are obstinate and intelligent, they grab the ball with their trunk, they kick it or they o kneel in front of the goal keeper, which makes the game more exciting but not so much for the referee, who risks its life with the possibility to be pressed between those huge bodies.

The elephants-players are not afraid for their lives because they always have their mahout taking care of them. They feed them, bathe them and take care of their homes. It is not the same case for much of the pachyderms that were working in the fields before and now they are “unemployed”, because of the new ways of working in the rural area.



Polo Championship

I was lucky enough to attend to the King’s Cup which was disputed in Chiang Rai, to the north of Thailand, and I let myself be conquered by this amazing and weird spectacle.

As each year, the World Championship of Polo on Elephants is celebrated in Nepal and the 22 edition will take place from the 30 of November to the 6 of December of 2008, organized by Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge and Chit wan National Park.

The World Elephant Polo Association was founded 25 years ago by James Manclark and Jim Edwards. It is worth to mention that there are teams from Scotland, England, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc. And some tournaments are organized in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Thailand each year.

The most famous teams are Tigers Tops Tuskers from Iceland; National Parks from Nepal; International Tigresses & Dooms’ Dragon; Chivas Regal from Scotland; British Gurkhas, Trunk & Discovery from United Kingdom; and Chopard from Hong Kong.




 In Chiang Rai was the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, and the field is located between the Antara Resort Golden Triangle and the Four Seasons Tented Camp. It was very interesting, fun and dangerous, the team of Mercedes Benz Thailand won at last against the Chivas Regal Scotland. The environment surrounding the field was very cheerful, the people don’t take it serious but the matches turn to be very exciting.

The Money collected by the Kings’ Cup is dedicated to preserve the one thousand 500 wild elephants and the 2 thousand 500 domesticated.

The polo on elephants is one of the most unknown and fun sports there are, where the mix of the speed of the pachyderm and the la agility of the player with his stick.  


Text: Patrick Monney ± Photo: Patick Monney