Photos: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images
Asian elephants are so much a part of Nepalese culture that those who ride elephants (called mahouts) celebrate the animals with five days of elephant pageants, races — even soccer matches.
The Chitwan Elephant Festival aims to raise awareness for the endangered Asian elephant population, which is key to the tourism industry and overall economy in the area.
Elephants, guided by their mahouts, race to the finish line in one of many rounds. The first International Elephant Race took place in 2005, with thousands of tourists in attendance.
Elephants thunder across a soccer field in a one-of-a-kind sports competition.