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Camel polo under the eyes of Chinggis Khan

By BAPTISTE CESSIEUX

           From March 9 to 10, the Bactrian Camel polo tournament happened 40 meters under the watchful eyes of Chinggis Khaan. Throughout the event, he was definitely the only one who had the best view.

This event is usually organized in the Gobi Desert, and people from Ulaanbaatar can only watch it on TV or read about it in newspapers. But once a year, since 2007, they have had the chance to see it live at the Chinggis Khaan Statue Complex in Tsonjin Boldog near Ulaanbaatar. The festival featured camel polo games and a contest to select the best-looking camel. A fair and exhibition of camel wool and dairy products were open at the venue. Different cultural performances as well as a traditional costumes show were also presented.

A lot of teams participated in the camel polo competition, and they came from the provinces of Ovorhangai, Bayanhongor, Dundgobi, and Dornogobi. There was even a team from Inner Mongolia. From 10 am during these two days, polo players participated in competitions that followed one after the other. More than 120 camels were ridden by the different teams. Each team included five or more riders and their camels. Two teams confront each other in an epic match to score the most goals. In the case of a draw, the winning team is determined by which one made the most impressive shot.

This event was concluded with a grand camel race with all of the camels present, followed by the giving of awards in different categories. In fact, the Camel Polo Festival has a total prize fund of 20 million MNT and participants were given money to spend for their and their camels’ transportation expenses.

The conservation of the Bactrian Camel race is actually the real objective of this competition. This sport was introduced to the public to save these camels which were nearly extinct a few years ago. Indeed, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the wild Bactrian Camel as “critically endangered.” In sixty years, the Bactrian Camel population fell from 900,000 to only 256,000 in 2004. Their commercial value declined dramatically so herders no longer found any advantage to breed them.

In 2002, a member of Parliament, T.Oyunbaatar, was aware of this critical situation. His love for camels and polo motivated him to start the “Mongolian Camel Polo Association.” His son, who took the presidency of this organization a few years ago, stated, “Camel polo is quite a new sport in Mongolia and efforts are being made to develop this sport and promote the Mongolian camel in many other foreign countries.”

This action has given the Government of Mongolia the opportunity to do research on this species, how to protect them, and how to promote camel products. Various NGOs have also been helping the government in this regard. And such efforts are paying off. Since 2004, the number of Bactrian camels has slightly increased to more than 300,000.

All in all, this competition was a great opportunity for Ulaanbaatar residents to watch a great countryside tradition. If you miss it, the desert is 500 kilometers away… Or you can wait one more year for the next Camel Polo Festival.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=3325

Posted by on Mar 13 2013. Filed under Entertainment, Онцлох мэдээлэл. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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