In a historic move, the decision has been made to discontinue the World Elephant Polo championship in Nepal in order to support the movement against animal cruelty. Elephant polo originated in Meghauli, Chitwan and had been going on for the past 35 years. Tiger Tops was the headquarter for the elephant polo event and annually drew an exclusive guest list of travellers, sportsman and wealthy socialites from around the world to compete in the championship which saw the participation of 16 elephants. The event was introduced in Nepal by James Manclark and Jim Edwards, owner of Tiger Tops Jungle Lodge in 1982.
As Tiger Tops have led the way in becoming the first safari provider to stop elephant safaris, I often wondered what would be the case of elephant polo. The ecotourism company have made a name from the elephant polo competition but with growing pressure from animal rights group, I knew that the days for the competition were numbered. However, I did not realise it would be so soon. This is indeed good news.
If you’re wondering how you play Elephant Polo then you might be interested in reading the rules below (from Elephant Polo site).
1. The Game will be played by four players on each team. The game is played on a marked pitch of “100-120 metres x 60-80 metres”, using a standard size polo ball.
2. The game will consist of two 10 minutes chukkers of playing time, with an interval of 15 minutes. The whistle blown by the referee stops and starts play.
3. The pitch will be marked with a centre line, a circle with a radius of 10 metres in the centre of the field, and a semi-circle, in front of the goals, with a radius of 20 metres, measured from the centre of the goal to form the ‘D’.
4. Elephants and ends are changed at half time.
5. The complete ball must travel over the sideline or back line, to be out, and completely across the goal line to be a goal.
6. All throws-ins or set pieces must be off-side to off-side. Right hand for both men & women players must be the dominant side.
Both men and women players must play on the right side of the elephant. Men may only use only their right hand. However, women may use two hands to hold the polo stick if they so wish. If women choose to play with one hand not two, then it must be their right hand only (and not the left). Care must be taken when changing sides of play, in order to avoid injury with the stick to other players, or elephants. When the Umpire/ Referee judge dangerous play has been committed, a spot hit shall be given to the opposing team. All defending elephants and players must be 15 metres from the spot.
7. Teams may bring additional players, reserves, to interchange with other members of the team, as long as the number, names and arrangements have been agreed in advance by WEPA. Team members playing will be named the evening before a match. The changes, except in the case of injury where a replacement is needed, must be done at half-time when names will be given to the Referee, time-keepers/ commentators.