A ship carrying thousands of live sheep bound for the Saudi Arabian market sank at a Sudanese port at the weekend, according to multiple reports.

Badr 1, which had 15,800 sheep onboard, sank after departing for Jeddah from the Osman Digna Port at Suakin, on the Red Sea coast of north-western Sudan.

Director of maritime control Captain Islam Babakr told local press that the ship was carrying 507 tonnes of livestock which he said was “appropriate” for the ship’s capacity.

The crew had been rescued, but many of the livestock on board drowned, reports said, although some had been pulled alive from the water.

The value of the livestock onboard was around SAR 15 million ($4 million), the reports said.  

Prior livestock shipping incidents

There has been pressure from animal rights groups to ban the cross-border trade of live animals.

Previous incidents include the destruction of 1,800 bulls aboard Elbeik, a ship which left Spain for Turkey in December 2021 but could not dock at its intended destination due to COVID-19-related restrictions in 2021.

In September 2020, Dubai-listed Gulf Navigation ship Gulf Livestock 1 sank off the Japanese coast, with the resulting loss of most of its crew as well as nearly 6,000 live cattle.

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Brinda Darasha)