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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac/Battle of the Camels

Air Date: Week of

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This week, we have facts about camel wrestling. In Turkey, camel-mating season is underway and the male tendency to compete for mates is harnessed in this spectator sport.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living On Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: MC Sultan “Der Bauch” Arabesque, Gut Records (1999)]

CURWOOD: It’s winter in Turkey, but the camels there are getting hot. That’s because it’s mating season and male camels are in the mood for love. And for a good fight, if necessary. An old tradition in Turkey is to watch the amorous Joe camels battle over their come-hither Josephines. An organized version of their courtship behavior is known as camel wrestling.

The sport originated in nomadic times, possibly as a competition between caravans. Wrestling camels, called Tulus, are bred for the sport. The Tulus wear bells and colorful fabrics as they parade through the streets of the wrestling field.

(Photo courtesy of Artemis Guest House)

To begin their match, a female camel struts on by. The two salivating males then begin pushing each other with their powerful bodies and necks. In the wild, these battles can get nasty, as camels have a mean bite. But in these games, Tulus wear muzzles for protection, and rope bearers, called Urgancis, stand ready to separate the animals if a fight gets too intense.

In the ring, whichever camel runs away, cries, or falls down loses, and the proud winner stands tall, basking in the adulation of the crowd and the object of his affections.

And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.




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