Each year during camel mating season randy males are pitted against each other in a tradition that stretches back to the nomadic Turkic tribes that lived on the Mongolian Steppe. Dressed in colourful costumes, the bulls are coaxed into a frothing excitement by the presence of females and encouraged to fight.
The wrestling itself is usually quiet tame – the two animals posing little threat of damaging the other – but, after one camel has asserted its dominance over the other the loser often turns tail and flees towards the crowd, who scatter in a riot of upturned plastic chairs and dropped food. With money riding on the result another spectacle can occur when the keepers that pull and prod their charge into battle themselves clash in a middle-aged entanglement of knitwear.
Held in small towns and villages in the Aegean area of Turkey, the largest and most famous camel wrestling festival is held in Selçuk, near to the magnificent ruins of Ephesus.
Dates and locations for the 2014-15 Camel Wrestling League can be found at www.allaboutturkey.com/camel.htm