Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

She's alive: Discovering Mary Shelley, 200 years after Frankenstein was published

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Venezuelan 'tyrant' must be isolated, Colombia's Duque tells FRANCE 24

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Alex Hepburn, Vanessa Paradis and Smashing Pumpkins

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Italy maintains spending plans despite threat of EU censure

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Ethiopia corruption crackdown: Former head of military-led firm arrested

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gazan TV bombing: Attack on the press or military strike on a propaganda tool?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Back from the brink? Gaza shootout triggers worst fighting since 2014

Read more

FOCUS

Saudi Arabia's increasing influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Read more

IN THE PRESS

The Queen, infertility and marriage troubles: Michelle Obama's tell-all memoir

Read more

Buffaloes plough through annual Thai racing festival

© AFP | Jockeys risk life and limb in their bid for glory

CHONBURI (THAILAND) (AFP) - 

Several hefty buffaloes thunder down a dirt track in eastern Thailand, kicking up dust as they are urged toward the finish line by whip-wielding jockeys perched on their backs.

It's a display of strength and agility from the riders, who risk life and limb in their bid for glory -- and a top prize of 8,000 baht (US$240).

The race is the highlight of the annual week-long buffalo festival held in the coastal town of Chonburi which is now into its 147th year.

Buffalo trainer Pongsak Khanngern, 44, has entered two of his animals into the contest.

"I have trained them for months and I am confident that one of them will win," he said.

The decades-old tradition started as a way for farmers to blow off steam during the slow moments of an arduous rice-planting season, and over time many superstitions developed around it.

If a buffalo fell sick for example, farmers would pray to the spirits of their ancestors to heal it; if the animal recovered, a race would be offered in thanks.

On Tuesday, some 500 buffaloes were competing.

"There? are? ?many youngsters attending and? (a lot of) interest in? this event," mayor Chutharut Parinwachirapud said of the crowds, which numbered in the thousands at the festival.

For centuries, these gentle giants were of immense practical importance -- ploughing the fields, providing transport, and even defending villages in times of conflict.

But as farming became mechanised, buffaloes have taken on a symbolic role, acting as a reminder of Thailand's farming tradition.

Near the race track, farmers splashed water over the buffaloes' glossy hides to keep them cool under the sun as they wait for their race category.

Phaichit Payindee has been competing for years, and prides herself in keeping last year's reigning champion, four-year-old Ruang, strong and healthy.

"Today my buffalo is ready to defend his champion title," the 42-year-old said, adding that she doesn't care about the money at stake.

"It's not about the prize, but my buffalo's reputation."

© 2018 AFP