Coronavirus fears force animal sellers online for muslim festival

Prancing in front of a camera with its blond mane blowing in the wind, “007” is one of the thousands of goats being sold online as Muslims prepare for a key religious festival shaken this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Millions of goats, sheep, and cattle are slaughtered annually at Eid al-Adha — the festival of sacrifice — one of two major holy days observed by Muslims across the world, including some 600 million in South Asia.

The pandemic has, however, badly hit India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which have shut or heavily restricted major markets, while fears about catching the virus are keeping customers away ahead of the main festival on Saturday.

“We were traumatised by the loss of two of my uncles to COVID-19 and didn’t want to sacrifice an animal,” Saddid Hossain told AFP in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka.

“But we have to stay within our religious tradition, so we’d rather buy from an online cow seller.”

Faced with deserted markets, livestock breeders and traders have turned to websites, apps and social media to showcase their animals.

Fahad Zariwala promotes goats such as “007” from farms across India on his YouTube channel, which has more than 800,000 followers.

“I shoot a slow-motion video with beautiful music, and I make them (goats) popular,” said Zariwala, who is based in Mumbai.

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