Fate of 21,000 Aussie sheep not known

The same ship that carried Australian sheep to Pakistan, where authorities have ordered they be culled after testing positive to salmonella bacteria, delivered sheep to Oman and Qatar without incident, the federal government says.

More than 21,000 Australian sheep arrived in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi two weeks ago after Bahrain rejected the shipment over health concerns.

On Monday Karachi’s top administration official, Roshan Ali Shaikh, said the sheep would be destroyed because they tested positive for salmonella and actinomyces.

But the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) says the sheep were healthy on departure from Australia and met Pakistan’s animal health requirements for imported sheep.

“The welfare and animal health of the sheep was closely monitored by a DAFF accredited veterinarian onboard the vessel and no major disease issues were reported,” a DAFF spokesman said.

The same ship that carried the livestock to Pakistan had earlier unloaded sheep at Muscat in Oman and at Doha in Qatar without incident.

The Pakistan Livestock and Meat Company, which procured the shipment reportedly valued at 130 million Pakistani rupees ($A1.31 million), has criticised the decision to cull the sheep.

Owner Tariq Butt said provincial authorities ordered the culling on the basis of reports by a single lab, while a separate investigation was ongoing.

“Pakistan Livestock and Meat Company will take legal action against the killing of the sheep,” Mr Butt told Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper.

Australian shipper Wellard Rural Exports and government representatives were hoping to have the export order rescinded, ABC television reported on Monday.

DAFF officials were seeking clarification of the matter.

“The department will not speculate on conflicting reports until information has been confirmed by officials and trusted sources,” the spokesman said in a statement.

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