Loud music, colourful costumes and two males fighting over a female – that’s what Turkey’s Camel Wrestling Championships are all about.
The annual event is held in an ancient stadium at Ephesus near the town of Selcuk in Turkey, where thousands of spectators gather to watch two male camels wrestle in heat after they eye a female camel who is paraded by.
The camels lean on each other and attempt to push the other one down. They are classified by weight and by skill level. Camels use different techniques to fight like pushing, foot tricks, and trapping. A fight is won if one camel retreats, screams or falls. A camel owner can also declare a forfeit by throwing a rope into the field if he feels his animal’s safety is at risk.
Camel wrestling is most popular in the Aegean region of Turkey, however, the sport is also popular in the Marmara and Mediterranean regions of the country.
An estimated 1,200 wrestling camels are bred specifically for these competitions in Turkey. That said, the practice is slowly declining due to the costs associated with the sport as well as over a rising concern for the wellness of the animals.