BANGKOK, 16 March 2016: After four days of festivities, the 14th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament came to a close last Sunday raising THB15 million to support Thailand’s domestic elephants.
Ten teams from around the world, including Miss Thailand, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby players and professional polo players created many memorable on (and off) pitch moments. The event closed on Thailand National Elephant Day established to highlight the need to improve the welfare of domestic elephants across the country.
A total of 20 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 HM 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 lives.
The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and has grown to become one of the biggest charitable events in the Kingdom, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s domestic elephant population.
THB15 million was raised this year taking the total raised to date to an impressive THB47 million (USD1,300,000).
The money raised from the 2016 tournament will be donated to a variety of elephant related projects including funding a new mobile clinic in Mae Teang, Chiang Mai Province which has the largest concentration of trekking camps in Thailand. Funds will also be donated to the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand to support projects to improve year-round care of 200 elephants and mahouts in Ban Ta Klang, in Surin Province where the 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 THB500,000 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.