Team Mekhong Wins 15th King’s Cup Elephant
Polo Tournament; Over THB 6m Raised
[HD video and podcast
below] After four days of fun festivities on the bank
of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, the 15th King’s Cup Elephant Polo
Tournament wrapped up on Sunday, 12th March.
A total of 25 unemployed ex-street elephants
took part in this year’s tournament, during which time they
received full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks
Organisation of Thailand (under the patronage of His Majesty the
King of Thailand) and the Department of Livestock Development. In
addition, all elephants were given essential vitamins, food and
care which are not available to them during their normal daily
The tournament was introduced to Thailand in
2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and is now one of the
biggest charitable events in the Kingdom, raising funds for
projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population.
THB 6 million was raised this year, taking the total raised
to date to over THB 50 million (US$1,400,000).
Funds will be donated to various projects
including the Positive Reinforcement Target Training programme for
mahouts and vets, the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand
which supports veterinary and educational projects to improve the
year-round lives of the 300 elephants and mahouts in Ban Ta Klang,
Surin Province where ex-street elephants face ongoing hardship.
Other significant benefits from the money raised
by the tournament include: the ongoing Thai Elephant Therapy
Project which has been underway since 2009 in conjunction with
Chiang Mai University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, with
future clinics to include children with Down’s syndrome and other
conditions; a THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand
donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC); 4,000
trees planted in Hua Hin for elephant corridors to stop
farmer/elephant conflicts; funding a conservation curriculum for
schools to teach children the importance of conservation and
protection of wild elephants in Thailand, and funding Asia’s first
workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the
benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for captive elephants.
A total of ten teams
with over 40 players from around the world created many memorable
moments on and off the pitch during the annual charity event.
The event kicked
off with a colourful opening parade, with the opening ceremony
overseen by the Kru Ba Yai, Thailand’s ‘elephant spirit men’,
traditional dancers, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the
Day two saw the tournament host hundreds of
children from local schools in Bangkok. Known as Chang Noi Day
(Little Elephant Day), the children were invited to get up close
with the elephants and learn more about their national animal. A
range of educational walks, games and activities all teaching the
benefits of elephant conservation and wellbeing were showcased by
Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’ where ladies dressed to impress with the best
dressed lady winning a stay in the Maldives.
The highly anticipated final was presided over
by the King of Thailand’s Royal representative, H.E. Air Chief
Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk, Privy Councillor.
King Power went head to head with Mekhong, culminating in a
thrilling end to the tournament, with Mekhong clinching the title
in the last moments of the match, resulting in a final score of
Final Leaderboard for 2017 King’s Cup Elephant
1. Mekhong 2. King Power 3. Casillero del
Diablo 4. Johnnie Walker Blue Label 5. Arabian Knights
6. Citi 7. PWC All Blacks 8. IBM 9. Benihana 10.
King's Cup Elephant
Polo 2017 Interview with John Roberts