News Getting the hump: camels do battle in front of tens of thousands of spectators

On Sunday, more than 20,000 people will gather in Turkey to watch camels do battle in a spectacle that dates back thousands of years. It is, depending on your attachment to the ungainly beasts, a historic cultural institution to be celebrated – or a throwback to an era before animal-rights campaigns when it was OK to starve an animal for three months to make it cross.

Some lions in the zoo in 2006 - animal-rights activists have long been concerned about conditions at Giza

‘Hell for animals’: Egypt's Giza Zoo beset by tear gas, bear ‘riots’ and giraffe ‘suicide’

Animal-rights activists have long been concerned about conditions there

5 ways elephants changed history: A brief history of stomping victories and disastrous reversals

It was the arrival of the cannon in the 19th century that finally heralded the end of elephants being used as an instrument of war. Until that time, from as early as 1000BC, they trampled across battlefields around the globe, through wars in places as far flung as Yemen and Sri Lanka.

Coming into contact with camels has been known to spread the respiratory virus

Ship of the desert: Camels of Arabia suspected of carrying deadly virus cargo

The one-humped dromedary camel of Arabia may be the source of a mysterious respiratory virus that emerged without warning last year causing kidney failure and severe pneumonia and leading to the death of about half the people known to be infected.

Circus animal ban should be watered down to exclude raccoons and others

Snakes, zebras, camels, raccoons and reindeers should be excluded from circus animal ban, say MPs

Government proposals to ban all wild animals from travelling circuses should be watered down to allow zebras, camels, reindeer and snakes to stay on the road, MPs have recommended.

Harold Bell Lasseter, seen right on a truck in Alice Springs in 1930, after finding nuggets ‘as big as plums’

El Dorado 'found' on Google Earth: Now expedition launched to retrieve legendary Australian gold

In 1929, Harold Bell Lasseter transfixed Australia with a tale of a quartz outcrop in the heart of the continent containing gold nuggets "as thick as plums in a pudding". He had stumbled across the reef, buried beneath sand hills in Western Australia's remote Gibson Desert, he claimed, while prospecting for rubies three decades earlier.

Helen Flanagan poses to promote the new PETA campaign, in Covent Garden

Ex-Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan fleshes out exotic skins protest for Peta

Former Coronation Street star Helen Flanagan did her bit to protest against the skin trade by showing off some flesh of her own.

Campaigners want wild animals banned from performing circus stunts

Government to ban use of wild animals in travelling circuses from 2015

More than 30,000 people signed an Independent petition calling for a ban

President Hollande was given the first camel in February

Mali presents François Hollande with a new camel after the first one was eaten by the family caring for it

There was, finally, some good news for President François Hollande today.

A view of the Yas Marina circuit built in Abu Dhabi

The Qatar 'Dream Football League' may be a hoax, but never discount any plans from the Middle East

Report in The Times claims Premier League sides will be offered £175m to compete in tournament

Artist's impression of the giant camel that lived within the Arctic Circle in northern Canada 3.5 million years ago

Giant camel fossil unearthed in the Arctic

Think animals of the frozen north and you think polar bear, musk ox, and walrus – but now you can also think camel.

The Big Six: Super-sized rentals

Spitbank Fort, The Solent

One of Karl Lagerfeld's latest creations

Karl Lagerfeld's animal magnetism: defiant designer goes big on fur

Fendi revels in mink and fox

The Griffon vulture was fitted with a GPS transmitter

Meet operative PP0277: A secret agent – or just a vulture hungry for dead camel?

Sudan says he's an Israeli operative – but his handlers say he's too easily distracted for that. Matthew Kalman reports on a spy thriller

Lord Monckton was an adviser to Margaret Thatcher

Lord Monckton kicked out of international climate change conference after posing as a delegate

Christopher Monckton, a UK Independence Party activist and dogged critic of the environmentalist movement, has been turned out of an international climate change conference in Qatar after posing as a delegate.

Postcard from... Granada

Since late last week, a photographic exhibition inside the Alhambra covering the last 70 years of Oman's social and religious history offers a rare and intriguing insight into one of the Middle East's least-known countries.

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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas