Thai league goes big on polo, holds tournament with elephants

Close to 30 elephants took part in the opening match of Thailand’s annual elephant polo tournament in Bangkok last Thursday (Mar 9).

The event, titled, ‘The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament’, now in its 15th year aims to raise money that goes towards the helping of wild and domesticated elephants, reports Coconuts Bangkok

Polo player from all over the world come, looking for a somewhat different experience. 

The sport carry its risk of course, as Asian elephants featured in the game can weigh more than five tons and move at 25km per hour. 

Each elephant is managed by a handler, or mahout and a polo player at the back, who strikes the ball with a long stick. 

The size of the ball is the same as one used in regular polo. 

Said Canadian player Adam Janikowski:

“A lot of my experience lately has been rodeo.

“I don’t think I ever want to do rodeo events with any of the elephants.”

The sport itself however divides elephant conservationists, some of whom say that the sport was cruel. 

Others commented that the sport helped to highlight challenges faced by the elephants.

Over the last 15 years, the event had raised more than USD1.3 million (S$1.8 million).