Rare elephants’ sports competitions attract over 100,000 spectators in Nepal

Photo: Bishnu GautamKATHMANDU – Over 100,000 local and foreign tourists enjoyed the games and beauty pageant of elephants in the Chitwan National Park, some 200 kilometers west of here last week.An overwhelming crowd of viewers of all ages and sexes reached the park, the largest national park of Nepal, to enjoy the three-day elephant running competition, soccer of the baby elephants and beauty contest of the female elephants.Photo: Bishnu Gautam

Bahadurgunj, a tusker representing the Barahi Hotel of Pokhara, became the champion in the ninth international elephant race by covering the distance of 300 metres in 1 minute and 06 seconds in the final round, beating five other elephants.

Ekatakali of the Chitwan National Park became second and Surajkali of Coldfeed Adventure, England won the bronze.

Twenty four tuskers, including sixteen from abroad, had participated in the race.

Photo: Bishnu Gautam

Likewise, in the football final held among the young elephants, Kist Bank won the title. With double hat trick of Kush Prasad, Kist Bank defeated Gaurishanker Bank by 6-0. Due to its excellent performance both as a forward and back, Kush Prasad was the choice of not only 45,000 audience gathered to watch the rare match, it won the ‘player of the match’ while Ichchhakali of Kist won the best goalkeeper title.

“I have never seen before the tuskers playing football,” said Bikash Adhikari who had reached the open ground of the Chitwan National Park to watch the match. “They play like the men.”

Photo: Bishnu Gautam

As most of the schools in area closed due to winter vacation, many had reached the venue with their grandchildren to enjoy the elephant matches.

“I have not seen the football match of elephant,” said Yashoda Rijal, 56, who was enjoying the match with her granddaughter.

The Regional Hotel Association has been hosting the international elephant race and soccer for the past few years.

Photo: Bishnu Gautam

Last year, 20 institutions had participated in the games which increased to 24 this year.

“We were satisfied with the turnout of the viewers this year,” Suman Ghimire, general secretary of the organizing Association said. “Over 100,000 people enjoyed the games.”

Photo: Bishnu Gautam
Photo: Bishnu Gautam

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