Every November, elephant handlers in Surin, Thailand, show off their skills by leading their animals in a procession, games of football and tugs of war. Historically elephants here were trained as working animals, but a decline in their economic importance has seen the handlers, or ‘mahouts’ use their animals more for entertainment than industry.

A line of elephants in a soccer team walk out onto the pitch during the Elephant Round-up:

Line of elephants in a soccer team during the November Elephant Round-up Festival at Surin City, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Asia
Alain Evrard/Robert Harding

Elephant footballers and their handlers show off their skills.

Elephants playing football, Elephant Round-up festival, Surin City, Thailand, Southeast Asia
Alain Evrard/Robert Harding

elephants playing football at the Surin Elephant Roundup in Thailand
age fotostock/Robert Harding

Mahouts and their elephants take part in a procession.

mahouts and their elephants at the Elephant Roundup in Surin Thailand
age fotostock/Robert Harding

Costumed people and elephants march into a battle re-enactment at the Surin Elephant Festival

marching into battle at the Surin Elephant Festival in Thailand
age fotostock/Robert Harding

Thailand, Surin, Elephant Round, up
Authors Image/Robert Harding

See more pictures of the festival here

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