The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) is calling for a ban on live exports outside of the EU, following the death of 120 lambs on the way to Singapore for ritual slaughter.

The animals were part of a consignment of 1,700 Irish sheep sent to Singapore last weekend for the korban, the annual ritual slaughter of livestock held to mark Eid al-Adha, the second major Muslim holiday of the EID period.

Initial findings indicated heat stress was the cause of the deaths, while the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has confirmed that is has commenced an investigation into the incident.

In total some 3,500 sheep were offered for the ritual, with the remaining 1,800 sheep coming from Australia. The sheep from Australia were not affected and were brought to mosques after they arrived on Friday, September 9.

This is not the first time that sheep have died while in transit to the festival. In 2014, over 170 sheep imported from Australia died mid-flight, also due to heat stress.

The ISPCA has said that it is completely opposed to live transport, particularly to countries outside of the EU where welfare standards do not conform to those of the EU.

Meanwhile, the group also recently raised its concerns about the transport of live cattle to Turkey, with the first shipment of live cattle expected to depart early next week.

It is calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, to urgently review live exports and to put a stop to the export of cattle and sheep to countries outside the EU.

Apart from the obvious animal welfare and ethical considerations, such exports damage Ireland’s reputation, according to the ISPCA.

The ISPCA is a member of Eurogroup for Animals, which lobbies for better animal welfare at a European level.

The group will be working with their European partners to end long distance transport of live farm animals to countries outside the EU where slaughter methods may breach EU rules.