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8 Feb, 2009 12:25

Stranded camels get the green light

Ukraine has finally taken pity on a caravan of camels stranded at its border with Russia. Authorities there have agreed to let the animals pass through on their way to Bulgaria.

One of the 20 circus camels has already died after been locked in a truck at the frontier.

The creatures were on their way to a Bulgarian circus when they were detained by Ukrainian customs officials.

Vets say the animals are in a state of shock and many are unlikely to survive the rest of the journey.

The transit of the camels was agreed beforehand, but now Ukrainian officials say there's a ban on moving animals through their territory as a measure against African hog cholera.

Earlier, the infection was detected on farms in the Stavropol region of southern Russia. But officials say it had already been eliminated.

Russian customs officers who checked the animals on their side of the border say the camels are healthy and have all the necessary documents to continue their passage to Bulgaria.

“For our part, we have no claim regarding this merchandise. The whole thing was registered in accordance with Russian legislation,” said Vera Makarchuk, a Russian customs official,.

The dead camel can’t be buried and its body remains in the truck with the other animals.

“I am not to blame. The other side must bear responsibility for the animal's death, the side that is really to blame. We shouldn’t have been standing here. It’s nonsensical,” said truck driver Igor Bogatyrev.

Animal rights activists have also used the opportunity to speak out claiming animals shouldn’t be made victims of politics or someone’s entertainment.

“Generally speaking, the responsibility devolves to those who still go to the circus which these animals take part in, thereby they support this violent entertainment, which should be consigned to the past,” said Konstantin Savinin, an animal welfare activist.