Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

As Muslims worldwide prepare to celebrate Eid Al-Adha, Senegal’s locally bred star sheep have their moment to shine.

Ladoum sheep, that can fetch tens of thousands of dollars, live a life of luxury in special parlors where they are massaged, groomed and fed syringes full of vitamins.

Muslims on Eid al-Adha kill and eat a sheep to commemorate the Quranic tale of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice Ismail as an act of obedience to God.

But like Ibrahim’s son, Senegal’s prize sheep will be spared.

The majestic-looking Ladoum can weigh up to 397 pounds (180 kilograms), and it has made this coastal West African nation famous among breeders.

Celebrated for their gleaming white fur and symmetrical horns, the animal is most often bought for prestige breeding and beauty contests, and not to be eaten.

Very few in Senegal can afford a Ladoum.

Worth up to $70,000, the sheep is the ultimate symbol of social prestige in a country where the GDP per capita does not exceed $1,600.

After years of record inflation, many struggle to afford regular sheep at prices starting from around $280.

Balla Gadiaga is a businessman and breeder who knew from a young age that he wanted to raise sheep.

He has a close relationship with his sheep, who walk up to greet him when he approaches their pens.

Gadiaga and his assistants massage the sheep for hours a day, which they claim helps them grow.

He claims he would not sell his most expensive Ladoum for less than 40 million CFA francs – more than $65,000.

Nearby, Moustapha Seck takes care of his family’s sheep, which his father has been raising since he entered the breeding business in 1992.

His prized Ladoum is named Sonko, after the country’s new prime minister.

Sonko the sheep was born last year, when its namesake Ousmane Sonko was still an imprisoned opposition leader and seemingly far from leading the country.

“When he was born, it was the moment when we had a lot of hope, and that was because of Ousmane Sonko,” Seck said.

“We saw that he was a true patriot, a warrior, someone who is strong. So this was when Sonko (the sheep) was born.”

By Joy

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