By Mark McConville

 

STUNNING IMAGES and video footage have captured several buffaloes sprinting towards the finish line in an annual race in Thailand.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

The action shots show rides with whips encouraging the buffaloes to race forward as they ride on their backs.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

Other striking pictures show riders getting their buffalo ready for the race, organisers discussing the rules with the jockeys and fans eagerly awaiting the beginning.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

The photographs were taken on Tuesday 23rd October by freelance photojournalist Julian King as he attended the week-long festival in Chonburi, Thailand.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

The race is the highlight of the festival which is now into its 147th year. An estimated 10000 people attended the annual buffalo racing this Tuesday.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

“The riders feed the gentle giants with a mixture of eggs and beer in order to enhance their performance,” said Julian.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

“For centuries, buffalos were of immense practical importance in Thailand — ploughing the fields, providing transport, and even defending villages in war conflicts.”

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

A participating rider explained that not all buffaloes are used for the race.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

“Only skinny legged buffalos are being used for the race,” said a rider.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

“When they have fat legs, we use them for breeding.”

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

Thailand is an agricultural country – in the old days, local farmers were dependent on buffalo to help them in the paddy fields. Hence, Thailand has a festival dedicated to giving special attention and praise to this hard-working animal.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

Apart from the buffalo dash, which is one of the main activities, there is usually a buffalo contest for winning breed, a farmer beauty pageant and other interesting activities focusing on the agricultural industry of Thailand.

Julian King / mediadrumimages.com

 

 

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