A livestock ship named MV Bahijah, carrying thousands of cattle and sheep bound for the Middle East, has been directed to return to Australia due to security risks in the Red Sea.

The ship is currently anchored off Fremantle, Australia, with approximately 15,000 sheep and 2000 cattle on board since its departure on January 5.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) redirected the ship to bring back the shipment due to ‘the worsening security situation’.

Accepting the exceptional circumstances and considering animal welfare, the decision was made on January 20 for the immediate return of the livestock.

While acknowledging the high quality of the Australian animals, the DAFF ensures strict biosecurity controls upon their return.

Working with the exporter, DAFF agreed they wish to ‘determine the options available to them, consistent with legislative and regulatory responsibilities’ whilst considering the ‘unique circumstances of the vessel’.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Western Australia (RSPCA WA) urges for the offloading of all livestock as ‘soon as possible’, referring to concerns about heatwave conditions and the animals' prolonged confinement.

They call for transparency and independent veterinary inspections to ensure the welfare of the animals on board.