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Final whistle for elephant polo in Nepal after 35 years

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-04 10:30

KATHMANDU - The curtain has come down on an elephant polo tournament in Nepal, which had been played every winter in Meghauli, Chitwan, for 35 years.

Eco-tourism company Tiger Tops, the organizer of the annual International Elephant Polo Competition, has announced that it will stop hosting the event from this year to support the movement against animal cruelty.

Elephant polo was first introduced in Nepal in 1982 after James Manclark, a scion of horse polo, started the pachyderm version with fellow enthusiast Jim Edwards.

The World Elephant Polo Association was formed in the same year at Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in the then Royal Chitwan National Park in the southwest of Nepal.

The first games were played on a grass airfield in Meghauli, which is located on the edge of the Chitwan National Park.

The game is played by driving elephants using trainers called mahouts. Initially, a soccer ball was used in the game. But after elephants started smashing the balls, they were replaced with standard polo balls.

The sticks used in the game are made of bamboo and have a standard polo mallet on the end.

Tiger Tops believes the event's termination will not adversely impact wildlife tourism, as new activities like elephant camps, a responsible and sustainable tourism activity under which visitors are offered an elephant adventure that highlights the natural behavior of the jumbos, are being held.

The Kathmandu Post/ANN

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