In warring Syria, greyhound breeding for racing and hunting

Derbassiyé (Syria) (AFP) - On a motorbike, Mohamed Derbass spins at full speed pursued by a dozen greyhounds.In northeastern Syria, he breeds this popular breed for racing and hunting, despite the war and restrictions due to the novel coronavirus.

The once lucrative activity is still widespread in the small town of Derbassiyé, located in the Kurdish territories just on the border with Turkey.Dogs are mainly exported to the Gulf countries, especially the United Arab Emirates, where the races greyhounds in the desert are a popular tradition.

But with the war that broke out in Syria in 2011, followed by airport closures and travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, exports plummeted.

"Before the conflict, the people of the Gulf used to visit us here, in search of the best pedigree, and to practice hunting," recalls Mr Derbass, who has been involved in greyhound breeding for 15 years.

When he enters the wire enclosure, the slender dogs with short hair, elongated snouts and wagging tails gather around him.

To train them at speed, he gets on his motorbike and sets off at full speed pursued by a galloping pack, in a cloud of white dust.

Used for millennia for hunting in the Middle East, the ears of these dogs - commonly known as Saloukis in the region - are sometimes partially cut off, as is a widespread practice.

Mr Derbass now owns around 100 animals which, he says, are particularly popular in Qatar and the Emirates.

It is thanks to social networks that he can communicate with his customers.On Instagram, the young man of 27 years posts the photos of his best animals, proudly showing the booty of the rabbit hunts, or even videos of dogs in train to sprint.

Posted Date: 2020-11-14

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