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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Farmers angry as Shambo is spared
Shambo the bullock
Shambo the bullock is housed in a temple pen at Skanda Vale
There has been angry reaction from farmers in Carmarthenshire to the decision not to cull a temple bullock.

Shambo tested positive for bovine TB and under strict animal health rules to prevent its spread, the assembly government said he should be put down.

But a judge ruled it would infringe the community's rights under Article Nine of the European Convention on Human Rights covering freedom of religion.

Shambo is regarded as sacred by monks at a west Wales multi-faith community.

But farmers have said that the decision to spare him at the High Court on Monday, could throw the UK Government's policy of tackling TB into question.

"This is a smack in the face to all those farmers who have lost valuable livestock over the years," Dai Davies, president of National Farmers' Union Cymru said.

"The bullock could put hundreds if not thousands of animals in jeopardy if he's allowed to live.

"When an animal is infected, an animal is slaughtered to bring this disease under control."

His Honour Judge Gary Hickinbottom ruled that Shambo's slaughter would be serious infringement of the community's rights under Article Nine of the European Convention on Human Rights - covering freedom of religion.

Why should the rules be different for them? It makes a mockery of what we've been trying to do
Farmer Hugh Richards

Of the assembly government, he said: "They will be obliged to reconsider the public health objectives that underlie behind the surveillance and slaughter policy, and come to a view as to whether, in the reasonable pursuit of those objectives, the slaughter of this animal (or some less intrusive measure) would be proportional given the serious infringement of the community's rights under Article Nine that slaughter would involve."

Hugh Richards, who has a beef and sheep farm in Llanelli, said: "Why should the rules be different for them? It makes a mockery of what we've been trying to do.

"There's no sense in what is happening, no logic, having had animals taken away."

Last year, 5,220 cattle in Wales were culled because they failed the TB test.

The bullock is taken care of by the monks... the risks have been overblown
Anil Bhanot, general secretary of The Hindu Council of Britain

The assembly government is still convinced that slaughter is the only way to eliminate the risk and is appealing against the judgement.

Former chair of the assembly's rural affairs committee Glyn Davies said he expected the decision to be reversed on appeal because culling was a UK-wide policy.

"Around 20,000 animals in Britain are slaughtered under this policy, one exception makes such a difference," he said.

However, Anil Bhanot, general secretary of The Hindu Council of Britain, said he hoped the reprieve was not a temporary one.

"The Hindus are law abiding people and we would not want public health fears," he said.

"The bullock is taken care of by the monks... the risks have been overblown."

The monks at Skanda Vale have said they have isolated Shambo and would treat Shambo with antibiotics.

But Clive Lewis QC for the assembly government, told the High Court there was no accepted treatment for bovine TB in the UK.

A campaign to save Shambo has included an online petition which has attracted more than 20,000 names. A video stream has also been broadcast live from Shambo's pen in the temple.


SEE ALSO
Fresh call for Shambo's slaughter
19 May 07 |  South West Wales
'No timetable' for Shambo's death
16 May 07 |  South West Wales
Farmers' worries if Shambo spared
14 May 07 |  South West Wales
Top vet's visit to 'sacred' bull
11 May 07 |  South West Wales
Slaughter call over 'sacred' bull
11 May 07 |  South West Wales

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