‘Fighter’ cocks of Andhra Pradesh cost lakhs, but bring in crores



‘Fighter’ cocks of Andhra Pradesh cost lakhs, but bring in crores

Guntur: Believe it or not, cockfight organisers in rural Andhra Pradesh spend anything upward of Rs 2 lakh a year to feed each bird to prepare it for the bloody sport. Though illegal, it is a mega sport in the countryside during Sankranti and the stakes run into hundreds of crores of rupees.


The West Godavari district, known for its prime aquaculture ponds and lush green agricultural fields, leads the cockfight 'industry' with people spending about Rs 200 crore on betting. Neighbouring Krishna and Guntur districts occupy the second slot in the betting hierarchy.
With such huge money at stake, the organisers do not leave any stone unturned in preparing the birds for the fight. Their food consists of almonds, cashews and minced mutton (kheema). To add to this, the cocks are injected with muscle-building hormones and antibiotics so that they can withstand injuries during the fight.

Cockfighting is prohibited under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974. Bird lovers oppose cockfight events as thousands of roosters die in the bloody sport -- which cockfight enthusiasts describe as a "traditional sport".
Rearing of 'fighter' cocks involves huge costs. "We offer several types of nutritious food that make the bird ready to take on anyone and help its owner make quick money," said a poultry assistant involved in rearing of fighting birds in Guntur district. The day begins before sunrise with the birds being fed almonds, cashews, and pulses. An hour later, they would be fed kheema. The feed is a balanced diet and a veterinarian takes care of the birds. Then they are fed boiled eggs and in the evening a dose of dry fruits and cereals.

The birds are also trained on a daily basis. The poultry assistant would keep an eye on the health of the birds 24X7 and administer hormone injections too to make them more ferocious.

Anticipating a heavy demand for 'fighter' cocks, many punters have set up their own farms in and around Guntur city. Earlier, punters from Guntur, Krishna, Prakasam and Nellore districts used to visit West Godavari district to purchase the battle-ready roosters from traditional growers. Some of the birds command a price of Rs 4 lakh each.

"It may sound bizarre to hear someone buying a rooster weighing four to five kgs for Rs 4 lakh. But it's worth it. If the bird wins the fight, it brings in a lot more money. The stakes are quite high and the price is nothing," argues P Nagaraju of Pedakakani village in Guntur district. He says these cocks help the organisers earn almost 10 times the investment.

'Specialists' are hired to tie a blade to the bird's limbs as it is the ultimate weapon to chop off the rival bird in the bloody sport. "Tying a two-inch knife to the bird is not an easy job. It's skilled work as the cock has to hit the target in one shot. We hire people from West Godavari to tie the sharp knife," explains Murahari Rao, a punter from Bapatla town.

The fighter birds command different rates depending on how they are trained. The birds are categorised as Dega (eagle), Kaaki (crow), Pearl and Nemali (peacock). The names indicate their fighting skills and ability. Dega cocks are said to be more ferocious during noon hours, while the `peacock' would fight down the rival in the evening.

‘Fighter’ cocks of Andhra Pradesh cost lakhs, but bring in crores ‘Fighter’ cocks of Andhra Pradesh cost lakhs, but bring in crores Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 2:37 PM Rating: 5

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