One of the most spectacular and colourful events of the Thai tourist calendar is the annual round-up of wild elephants at Surin, about two-hundred and sixty miles west of the capital, Bangkok.
GV & SV Dancers and people watching (4 shots)
GV People riding on elephants for the round-up (2 shots)
CU Spectator with camera
LV Two men on elephant rope foot of baby elephant (2 shots)
LV & CU Elephants dragging and lifting tree trunks (4 shots)
LV Elephants race with "jockeys" (4 shots)
CU Spectators watch as long line of men have tug of war with elephant (2 shots)
LV Elephant straining
SV Men pulling
CU & LV Elephant gaining ground (2 shots)
SV & CU Men losing ground fast
LV Elephant drags men along
Initials BB/1611 GO/MR/BB/1632
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Background: One of the most spectacular and colourful events of the Thai tourist calendar is the annual round-up of wild elephants at Surin, about two-hundred and sixty miles west of the capital, Bangkok.
This year's round-up was held on Saturday (November 18). The event is usually held on a weekend to cater for the thousands of tourists who travel by special coaches and trains from the capital.
Elephant hunting demands speed and precision and there is a high degree of competition among the Mahouts, or elephant handlers, to outdo one another. The wild elephants are roped by Mahouts mounted on working elephants.
As well as the round-up, the Surin festivities include demonstrations by working elephants, traditional Thai dancing and elephant racing.
SYNOPSIS: One of the most popular events in the Thai tourist calendar is an annual festival at Surin, about two-hundred and sixty miles west of the capital, Bangkok. Supported by the traditional Thai entertainments, the highlight of Saturday's event was the annual round-up of wild elephants. The are captured by Mahouts, elephant handlers, mounted on working elephants.
Every year, thousands of tourists travel by special trains and buses form the capital to see the round-up. Trapping the wild elephants with ropes demands speed and skill, and for the Mahouts the chase is highly competitive.
Basides the round-up itself, the day was filled with demonstrations of the strength and abilities of the working elephants.
Most of the elephants' work in Thailand is the heavy lifting and handling of bulky objects. But the huge animals are capable of short bursts of speed. The skill of the handlers parched on the backs was graphically demonstrated in the elephant racing.
Later in the morning, volunteers pitted their strength in a tug of war with one of the larger working elephants at Surin. As can be seen, one good elephant can do the work of many men in some jobs. The work of a trained elephant is a matter of close co-operation between animal and handler. Handler and elephant usually become inseparable and work together for most of their lives. As elephants do not breed freely in captivity, the annual round-up at Surin is more than just a tourist spectacle. The wild elephants are needed for taming to replenish working herds.