CONFUSION remains about the fate of more than 20,000 Australian sheep in Pakistani feedlots, with local importers winning an injunction against a government order to cull the flock because they are diseased.
The sheep were unloaded in Karachi earlier this month - the first ever Australian shipment of sheep to Pakistan - after Bahraini authorities rejected the animals because of scabby mouth.
After two weeks at sea, exporter Wellard was able to sell them to a Pakistani importer.
Despite being given the all-clear by quarantine, and a negative disease test carried out by the national laboratory, local authorities ordered their destruction after a second test carried out at a poultry centre found the animals to be sick and unfit for human consumption.
Pakistan industry and Australian officials both disagree saying the animals are healthy.
Before the injunction, 700 animals had been killed, and a court was due to look at the details and length of the injunction last night. A third independent test of the animal's health is now being sought. Sources in Pakistan told the Herald there was misreporting in the local media that was fuelling the issue.
''The statements and claims circulating in many international media reports lack credibility,'' the Australian agriculture department said. ''Despite this, the government understands some of the reports are concerning. We are monitoring all the reports and treating this situation seriously.''
The situation in Pakistan came as the RSPCA turned its attention to Australian breeding animals being sent overseas, which are not covered by strict new animal-welfare laws, following allegations of cruelty in Qatar aired on the ABC last night.
The society is demanding the government extend the new rules to breeding animals.
The department confirmed it had received a complaint from the RSPCA and animal handler Debbie Clarke. She has been working on a farm in Qatar over the year to improve animal management, which she said was virtually non-existent. When she returned recently she found dead and dying animals.
The RSPCA said of 10,000 sheep exported to Qatar for breeding in February, up to 7000 had died from malnutrition and heat stress by August. Breeding animals are more expensive, live longer and become part of local herds making tracking more difficult.
The Farmer Review of live export initiated after revelations of gross cruelty in Indonesia last year, recommended the government consider tougher controls for breeding animals.
The Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, said discussion between industry and government was continuing over the recommendations, with a final report due in November.