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The shame of Australia's live export deaths

News Section Icon Published 26/03/2010

More than 250 cattle have died during a sea journey of over two weeks from Australia to Egypt. They were among the 16,460 cattle on board an animal transport ship named the Ocean Shearer. These poor creatures may have already had a lengthy road journey to the Australian sea port.

This large shipment of cattle was the first to Egypt since the re-opening of the cattle slaughter trade between Australia and Egypt. That trade was closed in 2006 by Australia's then Minister for Agriculture due to public outrage at the abhorrent mistreatment of cattle in a Cairo abattoir.

The Australian live exports industry proclaims its own efforts to improve conditions for the farm animals in its care. But while the precise reasons for the deaths of these cattle are reported to be as yet unknown, this tragedy illustrates yet again that protection of the animals' health and welfare cannot be guaranteed during long distance live transport.

It is reported that thousands of sheep were on board too. Their condition is yet to be confirmed.

The inhumanity of this trade

Cattle and sheep being exported from Australia to the Middle East can be subjected to extremes of temperature and many sheep die from a range of causes including trauma, failure to eat (some sheep are unable to adjust to the pelleted diet on board the ship) and disease.

In addition to the animals who perish day-in day-out during this inhumane trade, numerous disasters have claimed the lives of many more over the years. Animals have burnt to death in on-board fires or drowned when their ship has sunk.

The export of live cattle and sheep from Australia to the Middle East involves immense and needless animal suffering. This latest disaster highlights the inhumanity of the live exports trade.

According to reports, this particular journey took longer than scheduled partly due to "piracy-related security issues." Surely another reason to end this inhumane trade. Compassion in World Farming calls on Australia to bring live animal exports to an end as a matter of urgency and replace it with a trade in meat and carcasses.

Take action

You may wish to write to the Australian High Commissioner to voice your concern. Click here to find the contact details for your local Australian embassy or write to the High Commission in London:

His Excellency the High Commissioner
Australian High Commission
London WC2

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