15,000 sheep die after livestock vessel sinks in Sudan

Sheeps cramped in a pen on a ship, animal news
Sheeps cramped in a pen on a ship, photo: Animals Australia

A livestock vessel carrying 15,800 sheep -thousands more than it could take- capsized and sank on Sunday in Sudan’s Red Sea port of Suakin. Only 700 animals were rescued, but they were in such bad condition that officials said they wouldn’t live long. 

The 49-year-old livestock carrier Al Badri 1 was exporting the animals from Sudan to Saudi Arabia. “The ship sank during the early hours of Sunday morning,” a Sudanese port official said. “It was carrying 15,800 sheep, which was beyond its load limits.” The official said the ship was supposed to carry only 9,000 sheep. 

Omar al-Khalifa, the head of the national exporters’ association, said the ship took several hours to sink at the pier and that animals could have been rescued. Omar said only 700 sheep were saved, “but they were found very ill, and we don’t expect them to live long.”

People watched the ship filled with thousands of animals sink. The sheep were locked up in different areas of the vessel.

Like most livestock vessels, the Al Badri 1 was originally a cargo ship and converted into a livestock carrier. The ship had many issues in recent years and hadn’t been officially inspected for a while, maritime news website Maritime Executive reported. 

On images from before and after the Al Badri 1’s conversion it looks like four extra decks were welded on the ship’s main deck level to add more space for animals.

“They are ancient vessels, operating under suspicious flags, and are poorly designed and maintained,” Maria Boada-Saña, veterinarian and project manager at AWF, said earlier.

In 2019, the cargo ship Queen Hind capsized in the Black Sea with 14.600 sheep on board. Most animals died. Many animal welfare organizations advocate against live animal transport by sea, calling the trips a hell for animals.

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