A ram the size of a small pony tosses its head inside a sumptuous pen illuminated by flashing disco lights, before lunging at some ewes half its size.
The skittish animal lives on a rooftop in Senegal’s capital Dakar, alongside a dozen ewes, in an enclosure featuring ceiling fans, faux chandeliers and multicoloured lighting.
The plush surroundings underscore the deep affection owner Abdou Fatah Diop has for the breed of sheep known as Ladoum, which are native to the West African country.
“It’s a passion. I forget everything,” Diop says of his sheep, adding that he spends more money on them then he does on his family.
But the sheep are still money-spinners. Businessman Diop, 40, sells lambs sired by his prize ram to other Ladoum breeders who want to improve their herds, for the equivalent of thousands.
Many are similarly enamoured with sheep in the mostly Muslim nation of Senegal, where there are popular television programmes dedicated to the animal.
The most prized variety are the Ladoum: a smooth-haired breed with curled horns that can reach imposing heights of 1.2 metres (4 feet) or more at the shoulder.
A wealthy elite also pays small fortunes for magnificent Ladoum rams to sacrifice during the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha — also called Tabaski — which begins next week.
Senegalese breeders only developed the variety over the past 20 years, according to Diop, to accentuate the sheep’s proportions and physical beauty.
Abou Kane, another top breeder, has dozens of Ladoum tethered under a white tent in the centre of Dakar to sell for Tabaski.
His clients will pay up to 2 million CFA francs (3,000 euros, $3,600) for a sacrificial animal.
“It’s an exceptional breed that you can find nowhere else,” he says, praising the sheep’s “splendour