The elephants lumber across the field on the edge of a Nepalese jungle in pursuit of a small white ball.
It might be slightly slower-paced than its horseback equivalent, but there’s nothing sedate these polo pachyderms.
Nepal has hosted the annual international elephant polo championships since 1982, attracting players, celebrities, adventure-seekers — and the occasional first timer — for a chance to take part in one of the most unusual sports around.
The game is based on horse polo, but with two people on the back of each elephant — a mahout that does the driving and the player who is concentrating on scoring.
The players wield 2.5 metre (96 inches) long mallets to reach the ground from the back of their mammoth steeds. “It might look slow and easy, but it quite hard,” said Bhim Bahadur Tamang, 62, captain of the Nepal-based Tiger Tops Tuskers team — who won this year’s championship on Friday. “You have to know how your elephants move and be strategic to win,” he said.
This year, eight four-member teams took part in the championship, with players flying in from over ten countries including Britain, the United States, Australia, Iceland, Holland and Sri Lanka.