Indonesian villages pit wild boars against dogs

Reuters

Posted at Oct 18 2017 09:37 AM

A dog and wild boar fight during a contest, known locally as 'adu bagong' (boar fighting), in Cikawao village of Majalaya, West Java province, Indonesia. Reuters

As the whistle blew, a hunting dog charged into the centre of a bamboo-made arena amid cheering spectators where it would furiously fight a wild boar in a controversial Indonesian hunting game.

Wild boar fight, known locally as 'Adu Bagong', is usually held at remote villages in Indonesia's West Java province, where a dog and a wild boar are pitted against each other in a 15m (49 ft) by 30m (98 fet) arena.

Participants who groomed and fed their dogs outside the arena before the match said their continued participation in the sports is a way to preserve a cultural practice that that has been carried out for decades.

The game, thought to have started around the 60s, first began when local farmers tried to protect their farms from being destroyed by wild boars. It was originally a test of the dogs' ability to hunt wild boars, but the spectator sport has also evolved to include underground gambling during the fights.

The contest is held every weekend in different villages and is judged upon the dogs' agility and the duration of the dog biting the boar. Both animals were forced to fight until one of them is injured.

Once the dust has settled, injured wild boars, considered 'unclean' for Muslims to eat, are slaughtered and sold to non-Muslim consumers. But if the wild boars were not critically injured they will be treated and used for the next game. The defeated dogs will also be treated for its wounds.

A dog and wild boar fight during a contest, known locally as 'adu bagong' (boar fighting), in Cikawao village of Majalaya, West Java province, Indonesia. Reuters

Hunting is an inseparable culture of the community, said Nur Hadi, the leader of a hunting dogs enthusiasts group 'Hiparu'. And it should not be abolished despite criticism from animal rights activists.

Activists have been calling for years to halt the game which has been described as a "crime".

"The government and NGOs should go to the field to stop this event and educate the people that dog fighting is not right," said Indonesian animal rights activist Marison Guciano. "The game is a criminal act against the animals."

Dog breeder Agus Badud argued that the activity boosted the 'economic value' of their dogs.

"I follow this contest to increase the selling price and economic value of my dogs, and it will be useless for me as a breeder if I do not participate in a contest like this," Badud told Reuters in his house where he keeps 40 dogs.

To enter the fight, dog owners pay at least 200,000 to two million Indonesian rupiah ($14-150) and the dogs are classed into three categories depending on its breed, weight and previous track record. Winners will get a trophy and cash prize of around $2000.

A dog and wild boar fight during a contest, known locally as 'adu bagong' (boar fighting), in Cikawao village of Majalaya, West Java province, Indonesia. Reuters