In Turkey’s Western town of Selcuk, the 2019 camel wrestling season is starting. These prized animals are celebrated in a dedicated festival, a tradition that has existed for thousands of years and is being considered for UNESCO’s cultural heritage list.
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It’s peak camel wrestling season in southwest Turkey, and cameleers in the region are traveling from town to town to have their camels compete in wrestling matches.
The Yoruk people, who are native to the region, have lived with camels for ages and consider them to be sacred. For generations, they’ve celebrated wrestling season, making a spectator sport out of their camels’ natural mating habits.
Camels are herd animals and it’s natural for the males to wrestle in order to establish dominance and mating rights.
This year, over 140 of Turkey’s elite wrestling camels competed at the 36th-annual camel wrestling competition in the town of Selçuk.
Typically held in the third week of January, the competition in Selçuk is generally known to be the most prestigious in the camel wrestling world – because it happens when camel’s are in peak heat, and generally attracts huge crowds from around the world, numbering in the tens’ of thousands.
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