Wrestling camels get ready for new season in Bodrum
MUĞLA - Anadolu Agency
The camel wrestling competitions do not result in animals suffering injury, according to the referee and camel owner ali Akgün. AA PhotoCamels in the western province of Muğla’s Bodrum district have been preparing for traditional camel wrestling festivities, which are organized in the district in the winter months. This preparation process is known as “havutlama.”
Licensed referee and camel owner Ali Akgün said camels were used for carriage and transportation in Bodrum in the past. “The camels were also used for carrying dowries,” he said.
“Everyone knows camels very well because dowries are carried by camels as a tradition. But this tradition fades away because cars are [now] used for this. Camel wrestling is a culture for us that draws the interest of a good number of audiences. This number is at least 3,000 people. No other thing can bring together 3,000 people from other provinces such as Antalya, Çanakkale and Aydın. People get tickets and support this festivity.”
Not fighting but wrestling
Akgün said camels were preparing for the new season’s wrestling festivities, adding just one camel could participate in up to 14 wrestling events.
“We take care of the camels in the summer. Now they are ready for the festivities. Some camels are in rut already but some are not yet,” he said.
Akgün said some animal lovers have reacted against camel wrestling, but he defended the practice by saying the camels were merely wrestling, not fighting.
He said the competitions would not allow camels to be injured, adding, “These events are organized as a show. We present a visual show to people. Nations compete with their cultures. We try to keep our culture alive. We don’t have a materialistic expectation.”
Another camel owner, Mustafa Akgün, said they attached a bell to the tails of their camels to make noise when wrestling. He also said that caring for camels was very difficult.
“Camels have different characteristics than other animals. I haven’t seen a domestic animal like a camel. They are not like sheep, donkeys, horses or cattle. They stock up on fat when they have too much food and spend it when they have less food,” he said.
Akgün said camels were able to perceive their rivals’ game, adding they were preparing for the competitions by themselves.
“We only help them. We make them to do their exercises. Camels become ready for wrestling competitions after Dec. 14 during the coldest time in winter. They don’t cheer up in the first competitions but come to a certain level after the third competition,” he said.