24 images Created 7 Mar 2012

Dogfighting has seen a resurgence since the fall of the Taliban regime during which time it was banned on the grounds of being un-Islamic. Today, fights occur on Fridays mostly during the winter months when the dogs are more energetic and their wounds are said to heal faster.

This particular series was shot in 2004 on a dusty lot not far from a refugee camp in the middle of Kabul. Crowds of boys and men numbering in the thousands gathered in a large circle for the several hour long spectacle. Continuous bouts occurred inside a circle tightly controlled by the fight master, an old man who confidently yielded a stick to keep the crowd and contestants at bay.

The Kuchi dog breed is favored for their aggressiveness, power and bulk. Some of these dogs weigh in at 80kg and their backs stand almost one meter tall. Kuchis take their name from a nomadic tribe which breeds the dogs to guard livestock and kill wolves. Fighting dogs often have sheared ears and cut tails to prevent injuries during the heated matches.

A green screen separates the dogs at the onset of the match and, once released, they charge forcefully at each other. Dogs do no fight to the death in Afghanistan, as they are very costly to buy and maintain. Instead, the owners pull the dogs apart once the referee has seen that one dog has gained dominance over the other.
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