Last week's discussion of bullfighting proved to be - wait for it - something of a red rag.

Like many, Helen of West Auckland was on the side of the bulls.

"Just because something has been 'tradition' does not mean it is right," she said.

"Today we recognise many 'traditions' from all cultures that have no place in society, often because of their cruelty."


But while the tourist appetite for bullfighting might be fading, it's the global financial crisis that seems most likely to kill off the corrida.

Bull runs and bullfights feature in the festival season for many Spanish towns. But cuts to town hall budgets have left the industry in crisis. The number of bullfights across Spain has dropped from 2176 in 2007 to 1177 last year. A further drop is expected in this year's numbers.

With a bull costing about $6300 to raise over four years, bull-rearers are cutting their losses and sending their herds to the abattoir.

At least the people of Guijo de Galisteo - a small municipality in eastern Spain with 31 per cent unemployment - prefer bulls to jobs. They recently voted in a referendum for $23,500 of council money to be spent on bullfights rather than creating jobs. But they're in the minority.

If you fancy seeing a bullfight, get busy. It's not unforeseeable that in the next few decades the corrida will become so rare as to be unseen by most travelling eyes.