Some 15,000 camels and 10,000 sheep have been expelled from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, many of them starving and dehydrated, as a consequence of a diplomatic fallout on the Arabian Peninsula.
Qatari tribesman waited anxiously at the border yesterday (20 June) to identify their camels, which reportedly can fetch up to £60,000 ($80,000).
Pictures showed camels lying dead near the border, apparently succumbing to hunger and thirst during the trek and while waiting to cross the desert frontier.
It is customary for many Qataris to graze their herds on rented lands in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, but this agreement has been suspended after the Saudis cut diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar for allegedly sponsoring terrorism.
"This is against camels and against bedouins [nomads] who raise camels, it's against bedouin living. This closure of Saudi Arabia centres in the face of Qatari camels, which pasture in Saudi Arabia," a herdsman told Al-Jazeera.
The Qatari government have sent emergency water, food and shelter to the border to provide relief for the animals crossing the border.
The website al-Raya reported that 25,000 camels and sheep had already been returned to Qatar, where the bedouin culture, though receding, is an important symbol of national identity.
"We just want to live out our days, to go to Saudi Arabia and take care of our camels and go back and take care of our family. We don't want to be involved in these political things. We are not happy," Ali Magareh told Reuters.
"For one week they kept them waiting there. The camels were starving. Some of the males were fighting and in very bad condition. My brother still has 10 or 11 camels in Saudi Arabia," he added.
Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, accusing the neighbour of "embracing multiple terrorist and sectarian groups."
Qatar denies the allegation.