Illegal racing imperils Bahrain glanders plan
Manama, June 25, 2012
A ban on the movement of horses placed in Bahrain in a bid to halt the spread of the equine disease glanders and was due to be lifted at the end of the month is now put in jeopardy by underground races, said a top official.
Reporters from our sister publication the Gulf Daily News witnessed one such race in Saar on Saturday, which attracted hundreds of spectators.
It started at around 6pm and featured donkey and horse racing.
The mood was jovial with children playing with the animals and a starter hooked up to a megaphone introducing the racers and horses, while people stocked up on water and sweets from an ice-cream van.
After the end of each race, the crowd flocked to see the winners and trophies being presented.
"At the end of the day we know that they are doing it," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry glanders committee independent monitor Britta Tappendorf.
"I can only give my recommendations but I wish that they (the ministry) would be harder on them and do something to stop them.
"We have submitted the final report saying that Bahrain is glanders free, but the people need to wait for the European Union and the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) to lift the ban on Bahrain first before going out with their animals.
"No stable in Bahrain is under quarantine and owners have the right to trade and buy horse from within their own territories, but no horse from the north may travel to the south.
"The only thing that the movement ban requires is that after any sale or trade is done, a written authority is obtained from the ministry to move the animal to its new stable."
Former committee member Sayed Salman was also aware of the illegal races.
"I spoke with people organising these races and they will continue scheduling races for another three weeks," he said.
"They will continue until Ramadan, stop for the month and start up after Eid. This is happening because the people are angry, they were asked to confine their horses for six months and after it was over they were asked to do it for another six months.
"They need information, before they used to call and I would give them whatever information I had and they still call me now because they can't get information from anywhere else. Now the ministry has extended the ban until October which is why the owners are not waiting for it anymore."
Government officials were earlier accused of putting the country at risk of the deadly equine disease by failing to properly enforce the ban on the movement of horses.
Sources also said mismanagement by the ministry meant the ban was likely to be extended until the end of October.
One of the organisers of Saturday's races said five more events had been lined up in the coming weeks, including another at the same venue this Saturday.
"This is the first horse race after two years and we are all glad it is over," said one of the event organisers. "Glanders has been out of Bahrain for more than six months, so why should we have to wait one more day? It's enough.”
"This week there were only two races and only one was a horse race, but next week I expect we will have, maybe, five horse races and some donkey races," the organiser said. – TradeArabia News Service