“We condemn any kind of fighting among animals, whether it includes bird fighting or dog fighting because it’s cruel,” Kabul Zoo director Aziz Gul Saqeb said.
“We did as much as we could to stop it,” he said. “But fighting animals has become a tradition. Particularly in rural parts of the country, dog fighting and bird fighting have become very common.”
In addition, the authorities have other priorities in a country riven by war, poverty and daily violence, and are loathe to take on deeply entrenched traditions.
Scottish traveler and explorer Alexander Burnes wrote in the 19th century about the passion for the sport in his book, Travels into Bokhara.
“Nothing can exceed the passion of Afghans for this kind of sport, almost every boy in the street may be seen with a quail in his hand and crowds assemble in all parts of the city to witness their game battles,” Burnes wrote.
Mohammad Omar, who brought his son and his prized US$500 partridge to fight in Kabul, could not agree more.
“Sometimes I can win, sometimes I lose, it depends,” he said, before jokingly motioning toward the bird and adding: “I even like him more than my son.”