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Cockfighting tourneys in vogue on weekends.

Byline: Arjuwan Lakkdawala

JEDDAH: Although cockfighting is illegal in the Kingdom, the fighting of roosters takes place across Saudi Arabia with the majority of organizers, spectators and betters being expatriates from Southeast Asia.

These bloody clandestine events, which include gambling, take place on weekends. Roosters are made to fight to death and are prepared by having their beaks sharpened and blades attached to their legs.

Fights typically end when one of the two birds either dies or flees. The standing rooster is then hailed the winner.

The fight begins when two roosters, which are usually bred specifically for fighting, are placed before each other.

Roosters, which are innately aggressive toward other male birds of the same species, begin attacking right away. Cockfights usually last for around 20 minutes and progress into bloodbaths.

"Before the fight begins, competing roosters are shown to the attending crowd so that bets can be made on which rooster is most likely to win," said a concerned resident who has attended several cockfights in the Kingdom.

"The fights are very brutal, and because of the blades attached to their legs and their sharpened beaks the roosters tear each other apart," said the resident.

"Months prior to the fight, the roosters are kept on a diet of nuts to increase their strength and are exercised," said another resident, who also attended the fights.

"The organizers don't think that they are being cruel to the animals - they foolishly argue that the roosters fight on their own," he said.

"The roosters are brought into the Kingdom by people claiming that they are gifts for sponsors," he said, adding that they then change hands for thousands of riyals. "Their prices range from SR4,000 to SR6,000," he said.

Around 30 to 40 people attend fights that are usually held in closed compounds, which are made to look as if there is a party going on.

"Cockfighting is illegal in the Kingdom, because of the cruelty element and gambling," said Gen. Ayed Al-Malki, chief of the criminal investigation branch of Jeddah police. "This matter is being investigated by the police," he added.

Lana Dunn, an animal vet, said that many animals in the Kingdom are being abused and that there is a need to establish an animal rights' organization in the country.

Umm Abdullah, a Saudi national who cares for animals, said it is very sad and shameful that there is no organization to protect the rights of animals in the Kingdom.

Copyright: Arab News 2003 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:Aug 26, 2008
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