It was at the St. Moritz Toboganning Club in Switzerland, that James Manclark, a Scottish landowner, international polo player, Olympic toboganner and former British bobsleigh champion was introduced to Jim Edwards, the executive chairman of the Tiger Mountain Group, who had just completed his first Cresta Run.
Manclark recalls, “My wife was sitting next to us and she said, ‘He’s quite a nice man and he’s got elephants.’” Edwards remembers James turning to him and saying, “You got elephants, let’s play polo.” So Jim replied, “Buy me a drink and we can play.” James bought him a jugful.
Back in Nepal, Edwards received a telegram from Manclark on the 1st of April that read: “Have long sticks. Get elephants ready. Arriving Indian Airlines 1st April. Regards, James”.
The now legendary telegram had Jim in a quandary, ‘Was this crazy Scotsman serious, or was it an April fool’s joke.’ But taking no chances, he sent Chuck McDougal down to Meghauly to prepare the field and the elephants. Much to Jim’s surprise, James showed up with his wife Patricia and a bunch of other eager players. Elephant polo was born.
Standard polo balls are used. The sticks are made of bamboo and have a standard polo mallet on the end. The length of the stick depends on the size of the elephant - anywhere from 5 to 12 feet. The rules of the game are similar to horse polo, but the pitch is 3/4 length. The rules permit women to play with two hands. Men are only permitted to play with their right hands.
For the World Elephant Polo Championships in Nepal, there are four team members on the field at any one time. A team is permitted a maximum of eight players for any tournament and can rotate players between chukkas. In other words, there are nine elephants (two teams and the umpire's elephant) on the field for a given game. The newer tournaments in Thailand and Sri Lanka have, previously, played with only three players (and elephants) per side, and hence a maximum team size of six players.
World Elephant Polo Association : (WEPA)