I thought Horses fighting to the death for Muslim entertainment in the Philippines was gruesome enough. But now I find Bear Bating in Pakistan. The rules are simple: a pair of trained fighting dogs are unleashed on a tethered bear whose claws and sharpest teeth have been removed.
OBSERVERS france24 -In Pakistan, beat bating events are staged by regional landlords to impress and entertain the general public. The bears are illegally captured by poachers, and then trained into submission by their gypsy owners. Each fight lasts about three minutes, and the dogs are said to ‘win’ if they have managed to make the bear roll over on the ground. Bears are often injured, but seldom killed – they are much too valuable for their owners to let them die. Some bears are made to fight up to ten times a day.
Although the bear baiting was banned in Pakistan in 1980 by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, it continues to prevail in deeply rural tribal regions. Landlords are extremely powerful figures in certain areas of rural Pakistan. They are the main actors behind these fights, which they organise for several reasons. Firstly, the events are intended to draw large crowds – and therefore more money – to village fairs in the landlord’s territory. But mainly, the landlords want to prove they are above the law: defying the government ban against bear baiting is a way of flexing their political muscles.