Afghan camels life is not an easy one.
If they survive the arid conditions, they still have one more test to face: camel fighting.
The male camels, which can stand up to 2m tall and weigh up to half a tonne, go head to head in a 10-minute showdown.
They have necks and butting heads as raucous crowds watch and gamble on the outcome.
Battle: Afghan festival-goers watch as a camel fight starts during the second day of Persian New Year celebrations in Mazar-i Sharif, northern Afghanistan
Brains not brawn: As well as using sheer brute force, camel wrestlers feint and sweep their opponents legs to try and win a submission
And there’s only one thing that will get these usually placid ships of the desert to turn so fierce – mating season.
Once the two bulls are led out into the arena, a young cow is paraded around to get them excited.
Once the two bulls will get down to it and actually try to wrestle one another they do not simply use brute force.
One… two… three… you’re outta there! Camel fights continue until one is pinned to the floor or runs away
The fights, while savage, are not usually fatal. Each camel’s mouth is tied tightly closed to prevent biting.
Other hazards include splashes of viscous camel spittle.
In Turkey, the spiritual home of camel-wrestling, fights are far more organised – and high profile.
The best specimens are regarded as well-formed martial artists, and they are prized by their owners.
The annual Selcuk championship, named for the western city where the event takes place, draws roughly 20,000 fight fans.
Bizarrely, they also enjoy eating camel meat while watching the duels.
Savage: Camel fights do not usually end tragically, but have been condemned by animal rights campaigners for their brutality
The sport is a cultural carry-over from the country’s pre-Islamic roots. The government discouraged it after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the modern Turkish state in the 1920s.
But, following a military coup in the 1980s, a new government encouraged it as a celebration of national culture.
The behaviour is not completely unnatural. Bull camels normally wrestle and butt one another in a knock-out contest and precedence in mating.
But animal rights campaigners are critical.
‘I think it’s one thing for animals to spar with each other in a natural environment of their own volition during mating season.
Festival: Camel fighting is not the only sport popular at Norwuz. Left, onlookers watch a ram fight; right, Afghan horsemen compete for a goat with a game of Buzkashi
Celebration: Afghans gather around the Shrine of saint Sakhi Saib, Kabul, as they celebrate the Persian New Year