In Madagascar, cockfighting is big business

Traditional sport is major source of income for many with wealthy enthusiasts betting even cars and houses on roosters.

| | Arts & Culture, Africa, Madagascar

Antananarivo, Madagascar - On any given weekend, the residents of Madagascar's capital, Antananarivo, gather for their weekly cockfighting competitions. Cockfighting is said to be one of the world's oldest spectator sports. Although it is illegal and considered cruel in many countries, in Madagascar it dates back to the 18th century, when it served as entertainment for the royal family, and is still very popular today.

In a country where poverty is widespread, cockfighting is seen as a way to make lots of money very quickly. People spend large sums breeding the birds and stand a chance of winning big if their roosters win fights regularly. Often, wealthy men bet cars and houses during cockfights between their roosters.

People gather at a gallodrome with their roosters on weekends and match them up according to size, weight and height. A fight will only take place once both owners have completed the negotiations and agreed to let their roosters engage in a fight. Cockfights can last up to 90 minutes and the first rooster to leave the ring or run away from his opponent loses the fight. 

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