A year ago, Network for Animals renewed focus on the monstrosity of organised horse fighting. Since then we have met with both success, and death threats.
Despite being illegal, horse fights are organised in city stadiums, often with government support. Raucous crowds pay for entry, in anticipation of intense violence, gore, even death. Bouts take place over ‘fiesta’ weekends, with 60-90 horses facing each other in gruesome one-on-one battles.
Each fights’ victor will mount a single poor female victim as his prize. The mare is used as bait in the fight. She is tied by the neck in the center of the ring, with no hope of escape. Her suffering is unimaginable.
The southern islands of the Philippines, where organized horse fighting takes place, are known collectively as Mindanao. They are borderline lawless. Despite being made illegal in 1998, elected officials today often help organise events, local TV networks cover bouts, and audiences range from gangsters to children. By attempting to prevent organized horse fighting, a person may easily lose their life.
The last year has been difficult. Network For Animals has experienced periods where our staff have been afraid to leave their homes in daylight. We have been invited to fights by councillors, then warned to put away our cameras, should we wish to exit alive. The southern Philippines is simply not like the west. But for the sake of the horses involved, we must never give up.
As well as gaining undercover footage at bouts, kind supporters like yourself have enabled our team to create regular veterinary events, where local horses are treated, and their owners encouraged not to take part in horse fighting. Some of the photos above were taken during an April 2015 event in Bukidnon, Mindanao.
Bukidnon’s governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr is incredibly special. In 2014, listening to Network For Animals supporters like yourself, and our team on the ground, he banned horse fighting from his province. The move took incredible nerve, and we are highly respectful of his efforts. But as with all change, the status-quo is pushing back.
Our team have discovered fight plans in Sinoda, Bukidnon from 12th – 14th July. We ask animal lovers worldwide to respectfully petition Governor Zubiri, and if they are able, to pledge a small donation to support our work.