04/12/2013 12:29 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 23:58 GMT

Dog Fighting In Afghanistan: Illegal Blood Sport Continues (GRAPHIC PICTURES)

Storm clouds may be gathering above, but they're no deterrent to the hundreds of men who have gathered to watch secret, illegal dog fights take place on the plains of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Neither is a Taliban-imposed ban on the blood sport, as the battles continue to be a popular source of entertainment, with large amounts of money exchanging hands.

These images were taken in March, though the fights are most often held during the winter months – supposedly because the animals’ wounds tend to heal quickest in colder weather.

dog fight afghanistan

Illegal dog fights continue to take place in Afghanistan

Only referees - those dressed in green robes - and the dog owners are permitted to stand in the fighting arenas, and village elders are appointed as judges.

Mastiffs and Afghan herding dogs known as the kuchi are most frequently entered to fight – often to the death.

In 2011, dog breeder Meyaan Ahamad spoke to the Los Angeles Times about the pastime.

Though pointing out winners can command up to $20,000, Ahamad insists its not about the money.

It’s about having the biggest, fiercest dog, he said, adding: “You get respect.”

Illegal Dog Fighting In Afghanistan