CONSUMERS in Bahrain will no longer be allowed to transport live sheep in the boot of their car, as part of new rules to improve the welfare of animals. The Bahrain Livestock Company has introduced the regulations ahead of next month's Eid Al Adha celebration, when thousands of sheep are bought.
An awareness campaign will be launched shortly to educate the public about the new requirements, with adverts being placed in many newspapers, according to sources.
From now on consumers wishing to buy and transport sheep from the company in Sitra will have to use a pick-up truck.
The move comes after criticism about the handling of animals in Bahrain and several other Gulf countries by organisations such as the US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) and Animals Australia.
"Anyone buying and transporting sheep from the feedlot will have to have a suitable vehicle that the sheep can walk onto and be properly enclosed," said Meat and Livestock Australia manager of livestock services for the Middle East and Africa Peter Dundon.
"A small utility or pick-up truck with proper sides is the type of vehicle that will be acceptable."
Mr Dundon has just returned to Bahrain from two-week trip to Australia to meet the media and answer allegations made by animal rights activists about the trade.
He admitted some poor handling of livestock happened during the Eid last year, but strongly denied allegations that anyone had been deliberately cruel to livestock.
"Footage from Kuwait, Egypt, Oman and Bahrain was shown on national television recently and special mention was made of Bahrain as the MLA has an office here and we have provided training in stock handling," Mr Dundon told the GDN.
"Unfortunately animal activists come to the Middle East and take footage at the most challenging times of the year such as Eid Al Adha and portray poor handling and transport as typical of the treatment they receive during the remainder of the year."
Mr Dundon congratulated the Bahrain company for introducing the awareness campaign and warned a failure to adhere to the new regulations could have disastrous consequences for Bahrain.
"Australia provides the healthiest and highest quality of livestock in the world and as a large island continent is free of disease," he said
"We also have the highest shipping standards in the world.
"The risk of poor handling and transport is that the live export trade may be closed, which would have a significant impact on fresh meat supply to the region.
"We want the rest of the world to know that Bahrain is genuinely committed to improving animal welfare and it's a great opportunity to do this in response to the BLC's advertising campaign."