Elephant polo is elephant torture

Help us end it now


                                                                          Think of us


      We are large and heavy and our feet are sore,

            We are part of a game with a tiny ball.

               There are long sticks and shouting,

     We don’t know the score.

 We don’t understand but we must go forth. 

 There is cheering and clapping,

     We don’t make a sound.

   We tire very easily thudding the ground.

   Can you guess what we are? 

    Can you guess what we do? 

  We are elephants, elephants,

      Playing polo for you ...


 This poem was composed by Maria Daines (http://www.maria-daines.com) dedicated in defense of the polo playing elephants.




Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick,  DBE MBE MBS DVMS

Message dated:

Thursday, February 26, 2009 


I have worked with elephants for over 50 years of my life, and am regarded world-wide as an authority on these animals, having reared from early infancy over 95 of their orphaned young, watched these orphans heal, grow into adulthood, and eventually return to where they rightly belong, in a Protected Area large enough to offer them the space an elephant needs for quality of life in wild terms.   Thereafter, the human "family" that replaced the orphans' lost elephant one, and who reared them only with compassion, care and kindness and therefore remain trusted and loved, have been rewarded when their erstwhile charges choose to bring back their wild-born young to show their human Carers.   Details of my work can be viewed on www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org

As someone who has always respected India's compassion for animals, it seems inconceivable that the authorities still condone Elephant Polo, and allow the organizers of such events to fool the world that Indian captive Elephants actually enjoy being forced to take part in such activities, despite hard evidence to the contrary.   As I am sure you know, not long ago a Polo Playing Elephant in Sri Lanka went berserk, injuring people and causing damage to a vehicle.    Such anger can hardly signify enjoyment. It signifies a revolt against cruelty and abuse, and it is now time that all caring people also revolted against such cruelty and abuse, especially in this, the 21st Century, when so much more is known about the sophistication and very human traits of Elephants.

Elephants are not designed to play polo and nor should they.   All who support this cruel activity contribute to un-necessary suffering of animals that have already suffered enormously from the brutal training techniques they endure which no sane person can call humane.   I speak with authority about what elephants like and dislike, for I know them probably better than most, having observed them daily for over 50 years through newborn into adulthood as well as studying their wild kin in the wild situation.   My late husband being the founder of Warden of Kenya's Tsavo National Park which harbours Kenya's largest single wild elephant population and we lived there for 30 years)

As the authority in Rajasthan, I do hope that you will urge the organizers of Elephant Polo to abandon their plans to host yet another barbaric event in March this year, which will certainly impact negatively on the record of India as a caring and Animal Loving Nation.

Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, DBE MBE MBS DVMS

UNEP 1992 Global Laureate
2000 BBC Lifetime Achievement Award

Call for Rajasthan to give up Elephant Polo

Message from Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, DBE MBE MBS DVMS

Dated: 1st March` 2007

"As someone who has always respected India's compassion for animals, it seems inconceivable that the City of Jaipur still plays host to Elephant Polo, and tries to fool the world that the Elephants enjoy it, despite hard evidence just a short time ago that a Polo Playing Elephant in Sri Lanka went beserk, injuring people and causing damage to a vehicle. Such anger can hardly signify enjoyment. It signifies a revolt against cruelty and abuse, and it is now time that all caring people also revolted against such cruelty and abuse.

Elephants are not designed to play polo and nor should they.
All who support this cruel activity contribute to the suffering of the Elephants, who have already suffered enormously from the brutal training techniques they endure which no sane person can call humane. I speak with authority about what elephants like and dislike, for I know them well, having hand-reared some 80 of their orphaned young, and rehabilitated them back where they rightly belong - amongst their own kind, and certainly not being forced to play Polo to entertain a public ignorant of the cruelty involved in getting an elephant to this point. I am recognized as a World Authority on the subject of what elephants like and dislike, having reared their orphaned young and worked with elephants for the past 50 years studying behaviour in a wild situation as well as acquiring an in-depth knowledge of the species through saving and rearing their orphaned young and I can categorically tell the world that Elephants should not be forced to play Polo."

Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, DBE MBE MBS DVMS

UNEP 1992 Global Laureate

2000 BBC Lifetime Achievement Award

Elephant Polo                                                                                          by Azam Siddiqui  


 'Elephant polo' is just another way of deriving sadistic pleasure by humans in watching the captive jumbos in excruciating pain, for nothing but entertainment of mankind. 

It is with a lot of pain, torture and abuse that a wild captured elephant is made ready to play the game/ sport of 'elephant polo'.

This site is created with a sole purpose to highlight the wrongs of 'elephant polo' which was till recently a subject that we have discussed superficially, but not in depth.

While most of us are aware of the wrongs in the circus industry to animals, what we perhaps do not know is the elephants that are made to run for a game of polo are slaves of their masters in this entertainment industry and simply do not enjoy the game as its promoters claim.

The debate on whether 'elephant polo' is the right thing, picked up momentum after it was flashed in one of the newspapers of India that the state of Rajasthan was gearing up to organise a match of  'elephant polo ' on 18th November` 2006.

The controversy whether 'elephant polo' with/ without 'ankush' (the sharp hook to steer an elephant) or cruelty involved, should be allowed has snowballed into perhaps one of the 'BIGGEST' animal rights debate.

The World`s best known legendary elephant experts and individuals heading reputed animal welfare organisations have come forward with their opinions and research and have made them available to the website so that we can understand what exactly goes wrong by organising 'elephant polo'.

Sadly though 'elephant polo' is played, promoted and supported by a powerful lobby which has its own perception of judging an elephant`s welfare. What is more damaging is that the promoters have managed to hoodwink a section of animal people with the promise of raising funds and awareness for the captive elephant conservation in Asia.

Undoubtledly, funds are essential to run any project of conservation.
But is this ethical funding where an elephant is made to beg to raise funds for its welfare?
Have all the other sources of ethical funding for animal welfare collapsed?
Why should we allow the exploitation of our gentle giants for money so what even if it is to fund the welfare of hundreds of elephants in captivity?
We do not treat fellow humans that way, while raising funds for children or senior citizens?

This is wrong and this has to END !

To end this all we need is 'POSITIVE NETWORKING', and this 'mantra' is showing its colours fast and steady.

We are not very far from the day when 'elephant polo' shall be eradicated from the society, not only in India or Asian countries but across the globe.

Our mission is to be able to sensitize the masses and bring the lost glory to the elephants and restore their rights.

This also goes to alert the vested interest multinational corporate houses to think twice before grabbing the opportunity to sponsor such events which instead may tarnish the age old goodwill of their companies.

Some of the opinions of these eminent experts who have dedicated much of their lives into working with and for the captive and wild elephants and understanding them has been compiled for the readers in the many pages of this website.

The email and other contact information of the experts have also been provided incase any visitor to the site may like to get back to the experts for more details.

The compilation of opinions and views would not have been possible without the support of the following websites/ groups:

AAPN (Asian Animal Protection Network) : http:www.aapn.org

The Elephant Commentator : http://groups.msn.com/TheElephantCommentator

Animal_Net :  http://www.an-group.org

PETA-India: http://www.petaindia.com 

The World stands United against Elephant Polo

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

PETA-India & PETA-World

 'OneKind' formerly 'Advocates for Animals' 

Zoocheck Canada

Jordi Casamitjana, Zoologist and Animal Protection campaigner. UK

Bornfree Foundation, UK

G.A. Bradshaw, Director, Kerulos Centre for Animal Psychology and Trauma

Gorilla Haven

Animals Asia Foundation

World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA)

International Animal Rescue ( IAR ), UK

International Animal rescue


 Wildlife Friends of Thailand


 ACTAsia for Animals


 People for Animals (PFA)


 People for Animals (Haryana)


 People for Animals (Bangalore) 


Compassion Unlimited Plus Action ( CUPA ): Bangalore 


Compassionate Crusaders Trust (CCT)

Gujrat SPCA

Widlife Protection society of India (WPSI)

Blue Cross of India

VSPCA- Andhra Pradesh, India

Hope and Animal Trust

Dr. John Wedderburn, Moderator- AAPN

Late Edward Berry, Former Moderator, Elephant Commentator & the man behind the idea for the creation of this website

Cora Moore, Moderator, Elephant Commentator



Pollyanna Pickering - Wildlife Artist - Painter of the Living World

Joyce Poole PhD, Elephant Ethologist and Conservationist, Director Research and Conservation ElephantVoices

Lisa Kane, Senior Lawyer & Elephant expert

Dr. Nanditha Krishna. Hon Director, C. P. R. Environmental Education Centre, Chennai 

Mel Richardson, Former Zoo Keeper & Elephant Expert 

Melissa Groo, Elephant Researcher & Conservationist

Catherine Doyle, Elephant Campaign Director, In Defense of Animals 



The note below has been taken from http://www.advocatesforanimals.org.uk/press/2005/06-01-12.html

As the 25th World Elephant Polo Tournament ends on Saturday (2nd December), Advocates for Animals is calling for an end to Scottish involvement in the ‘sport’ known as elephant polo. The animal protection organisation is asking the Scottish team’s captain, the Duke of Argyll, and its sponsor Chivas Regal whisky to end their association with elephant polo. This game causes both animal welfare and conservation concerns, a view that has strong support among the Asian animal welfare and conservation community.

Advocates for Animals opposes the use of performing wild animals for entertainment. The organisation believes that forcing elephants to ‘play polo’ is totally unnatural and contrary to their nature. The elephants are trained using a bullhook or ankush, a sharp steel hook that is used to prod the animals into obeying instructions. These hooks can cause open wounds which can become infected and cause pain and discomfort.

Advocates has written to the Duke of Argyll urging him to consider ending his support for elephant polo. Advocates is also asked the Managing Director of Pernod Ricard, owners of Chivas Regal whisky, to withdraw its sponsorship of the Scottish team. In a letter to the Duke of Argyll, Advocates’ Director, Ross Minett, said: “Please re-consider your involvement in elephant polo. It is hard to see any justification for using these magnificent animals in this manner. Cruel training is used to make elephants perform unnatural behaviours. Treating these wonderful animals with such a lack of respect only encourages further exploitation.

“I am aware that some elephant polo matches raise funds for conservation projects. However the ends do not justify the means. There are other ways of raising such funds without exploiting animals. Our views are supported by a wide range of Asian animal welfare and conservation organisations.”

Elephant Polo is also opposed by a large number of international and Asian animal welfare organisations including the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the Born Free Foundation, International Animal Rescue, the Captive Animals Protection Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, The Wildlife Protection Society of India, Asian Animal Protection Network, People for Animals India, Animals Asia Foundation, Blue Cross of India, ACT Asia for Animals, Compassionate Crusaders Trust and Animal Nepal. Jewellers Cartier recently came under pressure to withdraw its sponsorship from this ‘sport’.

According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), while it is true that elephants have been domesticated in India for centuries, elephants do not breed well in captivity and every single generation of these 'domestic' animals has been augmented with captures from the wild. After the intense trauma that a young calf undergoes at being forcibly separated from its mother and herd, it is put through a brutal training process to make it submit to human commands. Although the practice of wild captures has recently been banned, it continues illegally. Belinda Wright, OBE, Executive Director of WPSI, added: “To use any wild animal - and in particular these intelligent, sensitive giants - for sport and entertainment is demeaning and inappropriate. Instead of promoting respect for wild elephants and sympathy for domestic ones, elephant polo merely promotes the idea that elephants are amusing and controllable. We live in an enlightened age, where we should abandon practices that are not morally justifiable. And as a multinational company, surely it is up to Chivas Regal to set an example of responsible corporate behavior?”

Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick DBE, MBE, MBS, DVMS, 1992 ENEP Global 500 Laureate, one of the world’s authorities on elephants, with which she has worked for 50 years, said: “I believe that it is cruel to force elephants to play polo. No one who knows elephants intimately will endorse using these highly sophisticated and intelligent animals for frivolous fundraising or entertainment purposes as an Elephant Polo Match, or endorse the way in which most Indian elephants are brutally and cruelly trained, breaking their spirit and making them too fearful to be disobedient for fear of reprisal. It is my professional opinion that the use of elephants for polo should be banned in this, the third millennium, when so much more is known about these animals.”

John Wedderburn of the Asian Animal Protection Network adds: “Money should certainly be raised for elephants but not by exploitation of them. Some of the money raised can be used for assisting the wretched animals already living under human abuse but most of it should go to conserving the elephants' natural habitats.We would suggest to the Duke of Argyll and Chivas Regal Whisky that a much better use of their time and money would be in supporting genuine conservation efforts.”

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

For interviews or further information, please contact Advocates’ Director, Ross Minett, on 0131 225 6030 (07946 517585).

The Chivas Regal Scotland team is sponsored by Chivas Regal whisky and captained by the Duke of Argyll. Chivas Regal Scotland competes three times a year against teams from Hong Kong, India, Iceland, Thailand, England, Nepal, Germany, USA, Australia and Sri Lanka and has won the World Elephant Polo Tournament for the last two years. This year’s event ran from 26 November to 2 December in Nepal. The tournament is organised by the World Elephant Polo Association, which was founded in 1982 and has spread from Nepal to Thailand and Sri Lanka. Elephant polo was first played in India around the turn of the century by Scottish aristocracy and was started up again in 1982 by James Manclark from Edinburgh.

Further information on elephant polo and why it should be ended, including photos, can be found at www.stopelephantpolo.com.

1 December 2006

The Cruel CARTIER Elephant Polo Cup` 2006, Jaipur, INDIA

More info on Elephant Polo


The note below has been posted with the kind permission of Ms. Suparna Bakshi-Ganguly of CUPA :


The Duke of Argyll

Argyll Estates Office
Cherry Park

Scotland, UK
PA32 8XE


Mr Patrick Ricard

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Pernod Ricard

12, Place des Etats-Unis
75783 Paris Cedex-16 

Dear Sirs,
We are writing to you on behalf of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (WRRC), and the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AESG), based in Bangalore in South India.
Based on our on-going work with captive elephants at an all-India level, we hope to extend arguments as to the many reasons why elephants should never be made to play Polo. You are free to ask us for any clarifications, if needed .
We would like to bring to your notice that Elephant Polo has never been an acceptable sport in South Asia .The most ethical and fair thing to do by these great, wild and beautiful animals is to first discontinue Polo, as a sporting activity.
Recent research and studies in the sub-continent are throwing up valuable information about elephants in wild and in captivity.
It is fairly well-known that harsh intensive and extensive training is required to make an elephant perform unnatural activities like painting , playing polo or mouth organ , hit a ball etc. Power behaviour is necessary to get it to obey commands and perform.
In all cases training methods are invisible and away from the public eye. It is assumed by the public that training methods are humane.
 As more elephants need to be trained for this activity and trainers vary in their sensitiveness to the animals - methods used for training and taking care of the animals' needs leads to wide variation of treatment.  Elephants are subjected to torture and great pain in order to master commands. Unnecessary training for games and entertainment subject them to further harshness.
It is now emerging,  through scientific authentication and findings, that elephants exposed to humans, including their own mahouts, are prone to diseases like Tuberculosis. A recent pilot Health Survey done on captive elephants in India ( and presumably in Nepal ) has revealed that a sizeable number have full blown Tuberculosis.
The disease being contagious and zoonotic as well as expensive to treat with a long time duration of treatment , does not justify the exposure of captive elephants to any human beings.
It is known now that trainers and mahouts and elephants are suffering from Tuberculosis. 
It is not only an elephant welfare issue but also a human welfare issue for developing countries.  
In a game like Polo, swift movements,  stop and go, coordinating with an object as small as a polo-ball, blocking, turning instantaneously needs many co-ordinations for a massive and fragile animal, which can lead to injury and pain.
As knowledge of the common public is limited, many things are assumed by them including happiness of the animals, their body conditions, their interactions etc. for activities which justifies collecting funds or publicity.
This aspect is extremely questionable and well known companies and establishments should be well-advised to desist from patronising these so-called sports.
It has been reinforced  that polo activities have been going on for 100 years and should therefore continue.  
Based on emerging studies on captive elephant conditions, we are more enlightened today to ask very fairly, whether the same torture should be continued into the next century?
 It is absolutely necessary today  to reconsider and evaluate a basically non-essential, frivolous activity like Polo, keeping in mind, the health care and welfare needs of elephants.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Mr. Surendra Varma (Biologist & Researcher - Asian Elephant Specialist Group)
Ms. Suparna Baksi-Ganguly
(Hon.)President, WRRC &
(Hon.)Vice-President, CUPA