Cricket populations are dwindling in the little town of Sidian.
The ancient sport of cricket fighting is thriving in the little mid-eastern town of Sidian, in the Shandong province in China. Crickets in Sidian are said to be “genetically superior” and during the high season in August, good fighters are sold for the equivalent of thousands of dollars.
While the lifespan of the average cricket is about three months, cricket fighting enthusiasts have reportedly spent up to 50,000 yuan ($7,661) for a trained cricket. Almost every household in Sidian participates in the cricket fighting industry, from catching the bugs, to selling them in the market, or running hotels to accommodate the crowds of tourists.
Crickets are captured at night from the calcium-rich soils of the grain fields that surround Sidian—said to have the perfect pH for strong crops and strong crickets. Once caught, crickets enter training before they hit the market. They are kept in carefully maintained, humid conditions of about 25 degrees Celsius, and fed a diet of varying mixtures including bean powder, skim milk, liver powder, grains and fish powder, as reported by China Hush.
Some activists protest cricket fighting and the processes used to train the bugs. Trainers use long sticks to tease the antenna of the insects and provoke them into fighting. Crickets are divided into fighting teams according to weight, and many don’t make it out alive. During China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) cricket fighting was banned by the communist government.
Unfortunately, cricket fighting isn’t all fun and games. Cricket populations are dwindling in towns that depend on the industry—such as Sidian. Environmental activists have stood against the games, pointing out what could happen to valuable crops of crickets are pushed out of the regions.
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