Why Camels fight
The fight's start with two male Camels being led into the middle of the arena, where a female Camel is waiting. The male's then naturally become aggressive, and start to show how healthy they are by spitting, frothing and urinating (wasting water shows how strong they are). In the wild this wouldn't be that much different, the Camels would still fight, but they would at least get the girl at the end of it.
In fact organiser's claim that the Camels are actually safer in the arena than they would be in the wild,they have their mouths covered to stop biting, and vets on hand in case of injury. The fights only last 5 minutes or so before they are separated.
Another argument is that the animals themselves don't fight to hurt each other, and only go as far as proving which is the better mating option before carrying on with day to day life. So how can the traditional sport be cruel to animals?
Pomp, ceremony and tradition
The Camel wrestling season lasts around 3 months, but the biggest tourist attraction would be the annual championships in January. Around 120 out of the 1200 specially bred wrestling Camels (Tulu Camels) show off their techniques and styles for the crowd.
During the festival in Secuk the Camel's are all cleaned, tidied and dressed up in their best costumes and paraded through the town the day before the fighting. In fact the festival is more about the tradition and showing off than the fighting itself, but without the fighting tourists wouldn't be so interested in a Camel beauty pageant.
Style and form
Like in human versions of this sport there are lefties and righties, those that use muscle and weight and those with dirty little tricks, and just like boxing and other fighting sports they have different weight classes to ensure fights aren't "unfair". Tactics include tripping, feints and even attempting to sit on the head of the opponent!
Not that the locals would notice most of the 'intricacies', they spend most of the time grilling various meats and drinking locally made wines. It can get very heated later on in the day as gambling and alcohol fuel tensions.
The opposition and the verdict
As with any "sport" involving animals this one comes under a lot of scrutiny. The majority of the event is barely an act of cruelty, but there are some aspects that can spoil it, to keep the Camels in line for example most owners use a huge cane, and use it to hit the hooves of the Camels when they aren't "behaving". I would say it's on par with horse racing and dog racing for cruelty, and whilst I am happy to go to an event like this as a tourist, I can see why it comes under attack. Unlike bull fighting though the animals aren't expected to die or even get injured during the events, and there are usually adequate medical provisions for when fights get a bit too nasty.
Overall an interesting experience, and if you want to make the most of it try and find some locals who speak your language to help you get into the spirit of things.