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Elephant Polo



The World Elephant Polo Association (WEPA) was formed in 1982 at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge the Chitwan National Park in southwest Nepal. The first games were played on a grass airfield in Meghauly which is located on the edge of the National Park. The co-founders, James Manclark, a Scottish landowner and former Olympic tobbogan racer, and Jim Edwards, owner of Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge and Chairman of the Tiger Mountain Group, came up with the idea in a bar in St. Moritz, Switzerland, where they were members of the Cresta Club.

Elephant polo was first played in India around the turn of the 20th century by the members of the Maharaja’s Harem (Zenena) to keep them busy. WEPA is the first paramount organization in modern times to host and create elephant polo as a game with organized competitions. The game is played with a standard polo ball. The sticks are made of bamboo and have a standard polo mallet on the end. The length of the stick depends on the size of the elephant but range from 74 inches to 100 inches which is up to twice the length of a horse polo mallet. The other difference is the elephants are driven by their mahouts following the directions of the players assuming they are fortunate enough to know the mahouts language.

 

The Nikkei Asian Review's Gwen Robinson meets the people who organize elephant polo matches at a sanctuary in northern Thailand, where the sport has become one of the best ways to promote conservation. (featuring Ed Story, founder of The Elephant Story and John Roberts, Director of Elephants, Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF)

March 27, 2015