Cleaning up their tranquilizer guns and polishing their lassoing skills, municipality workers in the southern city of Gaziantep are counting down to Eid al-Adha, or the Festival of the Sacrifice, which is set to start next week. Once a year, these 20 men feel the adrenaline rush as they chase bulls fleeing slaughter at the hands of their owners.
Almost all municipalities across Turkey employ such teams tasked with stopping bulls and other fugitive animals set for slaughter from running away. However, Gaziantep's team stands out by employing drones. Buzzing over the bulls outrunning their chasers, camera-equipped drones enable the team to track their targets more precisely and block them.
The team, which also includes veterinarians, made a dry run on Friday in preparation for the holiday. Two bulls chosen for slaughter accompanied the team that raced to capture it with lassos and tranquilizers. The bulls were subdued after a brief pursuit.
Celal Özsöyler, who heads the municipality's wildlife department overseeing the team, said that their ultimate goal is to capture the animals without harming them. With 20 men and five vehicles, they will respond to loose animals across the city. Özsöyler said they also provide veterinary services for locals seeking to test whether their sacrificial animals are healthy.
Eid al-Adha, which will be observed beginning Sept. 1 in Turkey, is a four-day religious holiday dedicated to the Quranic account on Prophet Abraham, who was given a ram by God while he was about to slay his son Isaac upon God's order. It is observed with the ritual killing of livestock, but slaughters that go awry make headlines every year, with hundreds rushing to hospitals after they injure themselves during the slaughter and others chasing around fleeing bulls.