Huge battles at elephant polo championship

2016-12-05 22:34


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Nawalparasi - The elephants lumber across the field on the edge of a Nepalese jungle in pursuit of a small white ball. It might be slightly slower-paced than its horseback equivalent, but there's nothing sedate about these polo pachyderms.

Nepal has hosted the annual international elephant polo championships since 1982, attracting players, celebrities, adventure-seekers - and the occasional first timer - for a chance to take part in one of the most unusual sports around.

Strategic to win

The game is based on horse polo, but with two people on the back of each elephant - a mahout that does the driving and the player who is concentrating on scoring.

The players wield 2.5m long mallets to reach the ground from the back of their mammoth steeds.

"It might look slow and easy, but it quite hard," said Bhim Bahadur Tamang, 62, captain of the Nepal-based Tiger Tops Tuskers team who won this year's championship.

"You have to know how the elephants move and be strategic to win," he said.

This year, eight four-member teams took part in the championship, with players flying in from over 10 countries including Britain, the United States, Australia, Iceland, the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

Guest list

The idea was first conceived in a Swiss resort - reportedly over a drink, or two - more than three decades ago by Brit AV Jim Edwards, who was among the first to run safaris in Nepal and his friend James Manclark, an avid polo player.

It has since grown into a series of tournaments held in Sri Lanka, Thailand and Nepal.

The annual event, hosted by the Tiger Tops travel company, has over the years had an illustrious guest list of celebrities, including former Beatle Ringo Starr and the comedian Billy Connolly.

Read more on:    nepal

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