Following the news item: 'Cruelty throws spotlight on live sheep trade,' shown on the Australian TV network ABC last night (2nd December), Compassion in World Farming has written to the Australian Prime Minister, The Hon Julia Gillard MP calling on the Government to ban the live export of animals to the Middle East.
Each year Australia exports more than 3 million sheep to the Middle East. This annual figure fluctuates, but in the past decade the number has reached over 6 million in some years.
Many sheep die during the long sea journeys (on average this journey takes 16 days at sea with over 5 days spent unloading the animals at various destination ports*). The main causes of death on the journey include failure to eat, disease and trauma. The mortality rate is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. For many of the sheep who survive, their long journey to slaughter is still not over. Rough handling is common during unloading from the ship and then during re-loading onto trucks for transportation to markets, feedlots or direct to the slaughterhouse.
Animals Australia has documented the cruel treatment of sheep exported to Kuwait and Bahrain for sacrifice during the recent three day festival of Eid al Adha. They found sheep trussed up and manhandled into car boots for onward transportation in stifling heat, causing great suffering. Animals are not usually stunned before slaughter in the Middle East.
Compassion's letter to the Australian Prime Minister
Our letter to the Australian Prime Minister states that the vast majority of transport and slaughter in the Middle East does not comply with the international animal welfare guidelines of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).
This is obvious in the recent footage obtained by Animals Australia, where breaches of these guidelines can be seen throughout.
Compassion in World Farming believes that it is unacceptable for Australia to send animals to countries which it knows full well do not meet their international obligations on animal welfare.
The letter also notes the Australian Minister for Agriculture's intention to "find practical ways to ensure livestock exported from Australia are no longer exposed to [the] kind of treatment witnessed at this year's Eid al Adha," (ABC News 2/10/10).
However, it is Compassion's view that a complete end to live exports should be the goal and need not be economically disadvantageous as Australia already exports substantial amounts of halal meat to the Middle East and the industry indicates a steady increase in sheep meat exports, evident in a recent report commissioned by WSPA. Figures also indicate the value of sheep meat exports now surpasses that of live sheep exports to the Middle East.
What you can do
Please email or write to the Australian Prime Minister Hon Julia Gillard MP, and Agriculture Minister Hon Joe Ludwig.
Please urge them to end the live exports of Australian farm animals in view of the suffering caused by long journeys and in view of the risk of severe mishandling and inhumane slaughter of the animals after these appalling journeys. Their addresses are:
The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig
* National livestock export industry shipboard performance report 2009. Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia and Meat & Livestock Australia.