Irish lambs due for ritual slaughter in Singapore die mid-flight
More than 120 of 1,700 animals believed to have died on way to be used in Muslim sacrifice
Initial findings indicated heat stress was the cause of the lambs’ deaths. There were no signs of infectious disease. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
They were part of a consignment of 1,704 Irish lambs sent to Singapore for the korban, the annual ritual slaughter of livestock held to mark Eid al-Adha, the second major Muslim holiday of the Eid period.
When the aircraft landed at Changi Airport cargo terminal last Sunday morning, officials from Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority found some of the lambs were dead.
Initial findings indicated heat stress was the cause of the deaths. There were no signs of infectious disease.
The Department of Agriculture in Dublin said it is investigating the incident.
The lambs were intended for 26 mosques in Singapore where about 15 per cent of the population are Muslim.
On his Facebook page the Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong posted: “Muslims also perform the ‘korban’ [sacrificial] rites today and distribute the meat to the less fortunate and share among families and friends. Unfortunately, some sheep did not survive the flight to Singapore.
“Nevertheless, the korban rites are carrying on as scheduled. Those who have pledged to do korban are able to do so. My deep appreciation to all who have worked hard to enable korban rites to take place here.”
The Singapore Mosques Korban Committee said it had chosen Ireland over Canada for the supply of the lambs because it was a country willing to supply a relatively small amount of livestock to Singapore for korban.
“With our small order, there may not be many interested parties to import livestock to Singapore even if they are approved by the Approved Korban Vendor (AKV).
“Ireland was offered by the AKV as the distance to Singapore is much closer, resulting in lower costs of freight and logistics.”
The previous export of live Irish lambs for ritual slaughter in Singapore was condemned by Compassion in World Farming.
Two years ago 1,700 lambs were flown from Shannon airport to Singapore, but only one died in transit.
Compassion in World Farming has claimed these animals are not slaughtered humanely and many are beaten and tortured before being killed.
The 1,867 sheep brought in from Australia for the korban were not affected, but two years ago 174 sheep imported from Australia died mid-flight due to heat stress.