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Horse Export Ban to be Lifted

Things are brighter for the South African horse racing industry as a two year ban imposed by the European Union (EU) may be lifted by the end of the month. The ban was imposed following an outbreak of African Horse Sickness (AHS), which is a deadly horse disease unique to the continent, in a surveillance zone in the Western Cape. It is spread by midges and can spread quite rapidly causing widespread death of stock. However the measures have been taken to create a controlled area which has remained free of AHS over the last two years.

The success of these steps may lead to the EU lifting the suspension which would allow racing operators, owners and breeders to start racing their animals out of the country. Currently the AHS horse sickness-free zone is the only area in South Africa where horses are accepted for export to other countries. A spokesman for Racing South Africa, a commercial horse racing company, has said that a final report from the South African Veterinary Service would e sent to the EU shortly. This would facilitate the lifting of the ban. The report would detail the extend of the 2004 outbreak and declare it 'concluded'.

While initial lobby attempts to lift the ban were unsuccessful, the US has continued to allow the importation of horses from South Africa so long as they are quarantined for a 60 day period. As a result of loss of trading, many horses are currently exported via Mauritius. Unfortunately this is a lengthly and costly procedure and a lot of money has been lost over the past two years. If the EU does life the ban in March, it should lessen the cost of exporting horses to Dubai significantly.


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