Our new favourite sport: elephant polo

The King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament in Bangkok is in its 13th year, with proceeds raised going to the animal’s conservation.

EDGAR staff July 20, 2014

Normally, charging around a field on horseback with a mallet in hand is enough of a thrill. But that’s clearly not the case for the organisers of the Anantara King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, who take the noble sport of polo to new extremes.

As the name suggests, instead of using agile horses this supercharged version of the sport of Kings is played on the back of the world’s largest land animal.

They might not have the elegance of their equine counterparts, but with a considerable heft of up to 5,000kg and standing at up to three metres tall, the elephants more than make up for it with their sheer size and power.

This year - the 13th edition of the annual tournament, which has seen everyone from professional polo players to the New Zealand All Blacks and even Thai supermodels take part - the UAE's hopes lie with the Anantara Arabian Knights.

Apart from being a spectacular display of sport meets wildlife, proceeds from the tournament - which takes place in Bangkok from August 27 to 31 - go towards the conservation of elephants in Thailand.

So far an impressive $750,000 has been donated to a range of projects, including building elephant hospitals and planting trees to help avoid elephant-farmer conflicts.

Due to the immense size of the participants, each team is comprised of only three players instead of the usual four, and the game is played on a 100m by 60m pitch.

A few quirky rules are in place for the tournament - elephants are not allowed to lie down in front of the goal, and it’s also illegal for an elephant to pick the ball up with its trunk. We'd like to see the referee enforce that one.

Details: visit Anantaraelephantpolo.com