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Senegalese Sheep Sellers Compete for Muslim Holiday Sales

Senegal is preparing to observe the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha (the feast of the sacrifice) starting Sunday. The holiday, known as Tabaski in parts of West Africa, requires Muslims to sacrifice a sheep for the new year. Sellers from across the sub region have brought their rams to Dakar, but some local sellers say they are not happy about the competition. Kari Barber has this report from VOA's Dakar bureau.

Outside a bus terminal in Dakar, dozens of sheep sellers tend pens filled with hundreds of bleating rams. Sellers come from Mali, Mauritania and Gambia to cash in on Tabaski sheep sales, and some Senegalese vendors say the competition is hurting their business.

Mbai Sene from the interior of Senegal has been selling rams here for six years.

He says his profits have been going down.

Sene says, every time he sets a price, foreign sellers undercut him. He is afraid he will not sell all 25 of his sheep.

Amadou Gindo, from Mali, has been coming to Dakar to sell Tabaski rams for 13 years.

Gindo says sheep from Mali, often raised in the desert, are typically taller and thinner than those from Senegal. Because of this, he says, they fetch a different price.

Yusupha Ndiaye says he does not care who he buys the ram from, as long as the price is right. Rams here are selling for $80 to $600, an immense sum for most Senegalese.

Ndiaye, who works as a driver in Dakar, says he will be disgraced, if he does not buy a ram to sacrifice for his wife and 12 children.

He is willing to spend about $150.

Ndiaye says, on this day, sellers are not coming down enough on their prices. He says he will wait and try to get a better price tomorrow.

This year, the government reports that more than 260,000 sheep have been brought to Dakar for sale. Nearly 200,000 of those come from outside Senegal.