Earlier this year, Compassion’s Investigation Unit uncovered the horrifying treatment of European animals exported for slaughter in Gaza. Following on from this, my organisation’s latest investigation tracks their journey Europe to Israel, telling the whole distressing story of these young and vulnerable calves from start to finish.
Working with Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zürich, the team discovered that thousands of un-weaned calves are being transported from Lithuania, Romania and Hungary on long journeys, up to 4000km, with little or no welfare provision. The young cattle face hunger, exhaustion, beatings and squalid living conditions in the lead up to a brutal, inhumane death.
For the defenceless calves facing export from Europe to Israel and Gaza this journey is one of immeasurable suffering. The trucks and sea vessels are not fit for purpose and many calves are transported when sick and weak – some are unable to stand.
At sea, where there is no regulatory body to enforce welfare legislation, calves suffer most. Mortality rates are believed to be high and it is common for animals to be thrown overboard during the journey. Their bodies can later wash up on the beaches in Israel.
Young calves have poorly developed immune systems, and as a result, mortality rates are high during transport. According to workers, calves are of such low value that regardless of how sick they became veterinary treatment is not administered.
A recent landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice said that European animal transport laws must be applied even during parts of the journey that happen outside of the EU. However, it is clear that for the five days these European calves spend at sea and during the onward journey in Israel, there is no one to ensure welfare legislation is complied with and no consequences for those that break the law.
On arrival in Israel, the cattle are taken to quarantine and then sent on to squalid, barren, ‘lock-up-and-leave’ fattening farms. Animals that survive the terrible cruelty to reach this point are then sent for slaughter. Some are inhumanly slaughtered at Israeli abattoirs without stunning whilst others are driven across the borders into West Bank and Gaza as documented in Compassion’s previous investigation.
I am pleased to report that the release of this investigation in Israel has triggered protesters to demonstrate outside the Romanian Embassy in Tel Aviv. I find it encouraging that our investigative films lead to people fighting for farm animals’ welfare, at both ends of this horrific trade.
I am sure, like me, you will be appalled by the findings of this investigation. As long as Europe’s leaders continue to prioritise trade over the welfare of animals, these vulnerable calves will be the victims who pay the ultimate price for this cruel industry.
Whilst the export of live animals from the EU is allowed to continue, Europe’s youngest and most vulnerable animals will fall victim to this abhorrent cruelty. Please join me and fight this trade.