Sept. 6 - The King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament kicks off in the Thailand resort town of Hua-Hin. Tara Cleary reports.
A horn heralds the approach of the elephants. First there is a blessing …. And then a feast … Before the start of the tenth annual King's Cup Elephant Polo tournament in Thailand. Twelve international teams and 22 elephants compete in the event. And Thai Elephant Polo Association President, Christopher Stafford says this year features some very strong teams. SOUNDBITE: Christopher Stafford , President of Thailand Elephant Polo Association, saying (English): "There are so many little special events happening every day. This is gonna be probably the most exciting tournament we've ever seen." Each elephant carries an elephant handler and one polo player. And some players are very new to the lumbering version of the sport, like New Zealand rugby player Charles Riechelmann. SOUNDBITE: Charles Riechelmann, elephant polo contestant from New Zealand, saying (English): "I'm looking forward to it. I've never -- I haven't even touched an elephant before today so." As with most sports, these hulking beasts have to follow rules. Only three elephants are allowed on the field at once and the animals are not allowed to lie in front of the goalposts or catch the ball in their trunks. Both moves constitute a foul. Proceeds from the tournament go to elephant welfare organizations. And as nobody seems to be in much of a hurry, the event plods on for an entire week. Tara Cleary, Reuters.