Thursday, July 30, 1998 Published at 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Spider wrestlers put on hold
Fighting spiders in the Philippines can fetch up to £1.50
Spider wrestling, a popular if little-publicised sport among children in the rural areas of the Philippines, has fallen foul of the country's education authorities.
Education officials have imposed a ban on the sport, on the grounds that the appeal of watching spider-wrestling matches might prove more compelling than school lessons, encouraging truancy and, in bigger contests, introducing the children to the dangers of gambling.
The arena for spider-wrestling bouts is a stick on which the two competing spiders are placed and pushed into battle. The spiders wrestle with each other until one is overpowered and a winner is declared.
Champions kept in matchboxes
The ban, which applies to a southern province in the Philippines, was motivated in part by the length of time spent by children in looking for champion spiders, leading to missed lessons and unfinished homework. According to aficionados, the toughest spiders are found living on electric power lines.
Champion spiders are also involved in a lucrative transfer market, with top fighters acquiring a value of almost £1.50 for their owners. These hardened spiders are stabled in matchboxes between fights.
Even though the young wrestler-managers will be disappointed by the ban, local farmers will be pleased with the prospect of an increase in spider numbers as the spiders feed on insects that damage their crops.