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Live exports - a litany of disasters

As a follow up to my last piece on the live animal exports issue Animals Australia has given permission for me to publish on Webdiary its record of major incidents in the trade. It is an appalling record. This record does not even include the routine losses that occur on voyages. Only when a large number of animals are lost in specific incidents or losses exceed 3% is a report required by the Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA). Total losses per annum are however tabled in Parliament every six months so cumulative totals are known.

For instance it does not include the approximately 1000 sheep that died on the Al Kuwait, a routine shipment with routine losses that was the subject of the successful court case in WA against the company shipping those sheep. The basis of the that case was that to ship animals live while knowing the risks involved, the company had knowingly transported animals in a manner that would cause them unnecessary suffering, in contravention to the animal welfare laws of that State. The case was proven.

Hence a tally of the losses in the incidents here for the years 2000-6 will not even come part way to adding up to the documented losses in that period alone of close to 350 000 animals, nor does it include the 30 608 that died in 2007. It touches on major onshore incidents but does not reflect the issue of cruelty to surviving animals in handling and slaughtering procedures in importing countries. While the majority of animals go to Middle Eastern countries, large numbers are also exported to Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and South Korea.

In reading the facts relating to these incidents one can get some idea of the enormous level of suffering of large numbers of animals in this trade. The list below does not include more recent incidents and will be updated at a later date.

Cattle Export 'Incidents' Record

1996:  1592 cattle drowned when the Guernsey Express sank after taking water on its way to Osaka.  Japan. No report has yet been provided.

1998:   The 'Anomis' arrived in Malaysia from Geraldtown WA in January with over 2,400 goats and cattle but could not unload due to a financial dispute between the exporter, shipper and importer. The ship was held up for over two weeks and some 283 goats and 154 cattle are reported to have died. No report has yet been provided.

1998: The MV 'Charolais Express' hit heavy weather on route from Bunbury (WA) to Jordan in July. 346 cattle, of the 1,200 loaded, are reported to have died due to inadequate ventilation. Fifty cattle then died in a Jordanian port, and a further 174 were injured or ill and were subsequently rejected by Jordan, then by Yemen, and ultimately disposed of at sea.

1999: The 'Temburong', 829 cattle suffocate when power loss causes ventilation failure on the ship during the voyage from Darwin to Irian Jaya in January. The formal report recommended improved management of back-up power sources (www.amsa.gov.au).

1999: Some 800 cattle were loaded onto the 'Kalymnian Express' in December 1999 in Western Australia bound for Indonesia. Over 300 cattle died of injuries, or were destroyed later due to their injuries, when the ship met a cyclone off the north west coast of Western Australia. (report at www.amsa.gov.au)

2000: Two shipments of cattle to Korea were rejected at their destination when local farmers believed the trade would threaten their local 'Hanwoo' cattle industry. Six cattle were beaten to death while the remainder had to be held in quarantine and on board ship until the Korean Government were able to move them to slaughter.

2002:  99 cattle died on the NV Norvantes en route to Jakarta in February when the ship hit bad weather. The vessel left Darwin carrying 1,169 cattle.  (report at www.amsa.gov.au)

2002:  The Israeli Government reported that in July, cattle and sheep on the M.V. Maysora arrived from Australia and experienced heat, unloading and transport delays, and were delayed at border-crossings. Some 200 cattle died, most after arrival. Israel temporarily halted all imports of Australian cattle for several weeks until the delays and transport problems were said to be 'resolved'.

2002:  The MV Becrux, on its maiden voyage and boasting the ability to provide the highest standard of animal welfare and comfort, carried 1,995 cattle and 60,000 sheep from Portland Victoria to Saudi Arabia in July. 880 cattle and 1,400 sheep died after the vessel met extreme temperatures (45 degrees) and humidity in the Arabian Gulf. The remaining animals were rejected by Saudi officials and had to remain on board until another buyer was found to accept them (in the U.A.E).

2004: The MV Maysora delayed in Aqaba port in Jordan with 3,300 cattle languishing on board for almost a week whilst importers argued about feedlot space.

2005: Australian cattle offloaded in Israel from the Bader III were held up for some 24 hours in heat at the border crossing with The Palestinian Authority. Local animal advocates documented the distressed animals which had had no food and water during their truck journey and delay at the crossing.

2006: At least 247 cattle died aboard the MV Maysora on a journey from Portland (Victoria) and Fremantle (WA) to Israel in October/November. At least a further 200 Australian cattle (and some reports suggest up to 500) died in quarantine feedlots in Israel after arrival, and were buried in pits. Formal AQIS and AMSA investigations were triggered as the on-board cattle death rate was over 3%. The cattle died due to septicaemia (from infected injuries), heat stress and pneumonia (respiratory disease). Only 30 - 40 of the cattle were euthanased.

2007:  3,500 Australian cattle were caught up in an Israeli agriculture and veterinary workers strike in January. The cattle were delayed, and then unloaded into quarantine feedlots, but without standard veterinary health checks. Half were destined for Israeli slaughterhouses, and the rest were to be transported to the Palestinian Territories.

2007: A ship with 1,695 cattle on board traveling from Fremantle (WA) to Jakarta (operated by Halleen Australasian Livestock Traders Pty Ltd) was battered by a cyclone. 68 cattle died (4.01%) during the 8-day voyage.

Sheep Export ‘Incidents'
1980: The total cargo (40,605 sheep) perish in a fire aboard the Farid Fares.
Disease outbreak causes the death of 2,713 sheep on the Kahleej Express.

1981: 635 sheep die in the transfer from the Kahleej Express to the A1 Shuuwaikh.
8,764 sheep perished onboard The Persia from ventilation breakdown.

1983: 15,000 sheep die from exposure in Portland feedlots while waiting loading.

1984: Ventilation breakdown in the Mukairish Althaleth causes the death of 70 sheep each day.

1985: 15,000 sheep die of heat exhaustion on board the Fernanda F.

1989-90: Many Australian shipments rejected due to claims of scabby mouth and other diseases, by Saudi Arabia . Death rates on board soared to an average of 6% as sheep waited on board ships languishing outside ports or en route to alternative ports.

1990: One rejected ship, the Mawashi AI Gasseem was forced to stay on the water for 16 weeks before a country would accept its remaining sheep.

1990: The "state of the art" Cormo Express left New Zealand in May 1990 and almost 10,000 sheep died en route to the Middle East due to inadequate ventilation causing heat stroke, pneumonia, other diseases and failure to eat.

1991:At the end of the Gulf War, Australian sheep arrived in war-devastated Kuwait and some 30,000 sheep died from heat stroke and dehydration due to poor infrastructure and feedlot facilities.

1991:Published studies show death rates in Middle East feedlots to be, on average, 3 per cent over the 3-week holding period.

1992: Published figures show increased on-board death rates, rising to almost 3 per cent, the rise being attributed mainly due a large number of ships unloading at more than one Middle East port attributed mainly due a large number of ships unloading at more than one Middle East port.

1996:67,488 sheep died when fire broke out on board the Uniceb; 8 days elapsed before any rescue attempt was made.

2002:The MV Becrux, on its maiden voyage boasting the ability to provide the highest standard of animal welfare, carried 60,000 sheep and 1,995 cattle from Portland Victoria to Saudi Arabia . 1,400 sheep died along with 880 cattle after the vessel met high temperatures (45 degrees) and humidity in the Arabian Gulf .

2002: In July and August 4 shipments of sheep recorded high death rates during export to the Middle East , and a total of 15,156 sheep died during the voyage and discharge phase. Cormo Express: 1064 sheep died, Corriedale Express: 6119 sheep died, Al Shuwaikh: 5,800 sheep died, and Al Messilah: 2173 sheep died. AMSA/AFFA and AQIS conducting 4 separate inquiries. At least one ship, the Al Shuwaikh, was allowed to load more sheep in September and leave for the ME before any reports are completed, albeit with an AQIS vet on board.  A further 2,304 (3%) sheep died.

2003 :Saudi Arabia rejects the MV Cormo Express (allegedly on disease grounds) in August, with 57,000 sheep on board.  No other country would take the sheep – and it was late October before Eritrea agreed to offload them.  10%, around 6,000 sheep, died during the three month-long voyage.  Australia suspended all live export too Saudi Arabia (resumed in mid 2005)

2005: The MV Maysora was delayed fully laden with 80,000 sheep in Fremantle harbour when engine problems occurred.  No animal welfare authorities were alerted.

2006: In February 2006 the MV Al Messilah loaded 786 cattle in Portland (Vic.), and then loaded 71,309 sheep in Devonport (Tas.) for the trip to several Middle East countries including Kuwait. Thousands of sheep were rejected at the feedlot prior to loading due to 'pink eye' infections and other problems. Fully laden the staff resources were not sufficient to treat all the cattle (6 died) and sheep that became ill - 1683 (2.36%) of the sheep died - due to heat stress and failure to eat, exacerbated by pink eye and other problems.

The MV Maysora arrived in Eilat Israel in early November and a consignment of sheep was rejected - said to be due to a suspected scabie mouth outbreak in sheep from an earlier voyage on the MV Bader III. Some of the sheep were offloaded in nearby Jordan and others (approximately 40,000) were unexpectedly taken to Egypt and killed during the Eid Al Adha festival. 862 sheep died on the month long voyage (under the reportable death rate).

The continuing loss of tens of thousands of animals every year and the incidents above clearly demonstrate one of the conclusions reached in two major inquiries into the trade - that the trade by its very nature had animal welfare implications. As demonstrated by the the trade can never be made humane.

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Animals ill treated

This is an utter disgrace. How come we tolerate it?

Clearly the majority of the people would not alow this if they had any say in it, would we?

The economics of exporting meat in freezer condition is obviously the key, but this is a moral issue, and government should put a stop to it.

On a broader perspective, religious slaugtering questions are involved, and in course of time we, as a nation,  will have to face other questions involving religious complications. It is for the people to decide. 

If we, and government, can so easily be bulldozed into immoral acts on economic grounds like this, we are not a  nation of real people, but a rabble without moral guts.  

The majority don't, Basil

Basil Smith, the majority of Australians when polled were all understandably opposed to this abominable trade. The Government knows that, as did the one before it, and Kevin Rudd, before the election, mouthed words about the trade having to be ended if it was cruel. Yet he has all the evidence he needs and his MInister is out there now telling farmers he strongly supports this trade.

You will see from my earlier post down the page a bit Live exports- another 36 408 animals dead on ships yet the trade goes on (figures for 2007) that the religious issue is not a valid reason for the trade - we ship far more meat chilled and killed under Halal regulations here in Australia than we do live animals. The trade is simply not worth the cruelty.

It is not just the hundreds of thousands of animals that have drowned, been burnt to death at sea, died of injuries being thrown around decks in storms, died of heat exhaustion when ventilation systems failed, or died of hunger due to failure to eat the pellet food on board - but the fact that the balance of the animals that do survive are highly stressed on arrival, and then are subject to the most appalling handling and slaughtering practices in many countries. It is not as if they are slaughtered immediately on arrival, many are trucked as you can see from this post over long distances in extreme heat into other countries. Thousands have died of heat stress, never making it to the slaughter houses.

Yet incrediblly in raising this issue you will see from the other thread some accuse me of caring more about animals than people, and even of being anti Islamic for talking about the problems in the ME in terms of their treatment of the animals.

Some people here just look for excuses not to accept the reality of this trade and get out there and oppose it. They have nothing to say when you remind them that we also ship a hell of a long way to Japan, Korea and the Phillipines. Korea in particular has a pretty bad record when it comes to how they treat out imported cattle, as can be seen by the battering of some of them to death in the street protest at their being imported. It has nothing to do with religion, it is the attitudes of people in those countries toward animals.

And as you will see from one of my comments on the other thread, regarding the treatment of goats in the NT destined for export, those involved in the trade this end also have a lot to answer for.

The two earlier pieces I did last year, particularly the first Live Exports in heavy seas again gives links to the facts of the trade and the inquiries that have been held.

We have to stop this trade somehow. Many people are simply unaware of just how cruel it is from the farm gate to the ultimate destination.

When sheep die on board they are usually thrown overboard, or they are minced up in a machine. Some workers on the ships reported that some dying sheep are not even dead when thrown in the mincer but it is hard to get proof of that. MInd you, the same is said of the millions of baby male chickens that are minced up, the male ones not needed to go into the battery hen cages. Most of them are acutally smothered as they sexed and the males thrown into bags on top of each other en masse. The latest I have read is that many go into the mincer alive, to become cat food. Just great! Makes me sick and the least I can do is not eat cage eggs or chicken meat, nor buy cat food made from chicken meat.

Thank you for your interest. If you want to help you can contact Animals Australia on their website. I think they are currently doing another investigation in conjunction with an overseas organization in the ME.


Jenny, I didn't think that you were associated with (won't say "owned") any cat. So whence your "refusal" to purchase cat food containing chicken meat? 

(If anyone needs me to be more explicit - given that my recent attempt at irony fell flat on its funny little face - I've "refused" to buy pet food for the last 36 years, essentially because, during that time, I haven't had a pet that might consume that sort of food.)

Cats and homeless goats

Fiona, since you ask I confess our last cat died some fifteen years ago but my late sister fed every stray that ventured near the old home, of which there was a constant succession, as there were dogs, dumped by those unthinking urbanites who seemed to think that our bounty was boundless.

So when my dear sister opted out of this world last October, I inherited a rather big catty problem.

So you see my dear, I am in the market for the odd tin of cat food which presents a bit of a problem for a veggie. Life can be very challenging at times.

Now just to be catty in order to upset, or should I say add to the astonishment of F Kendall, I declare another act of selfless generosity on my part, no less than 500 bucks to a guy feeding a horde of rescued battery and broiler chooks, some abandoned geese and a few homeless goats. But I really must pull my horns in - the Scot here is getting rather thin.

No folks, richness I do not have, being less than half way there to Rudd's solar panel cut off level, but I just cannot abide the sight of a hungry and homeless goat. Now that should stir a few hornets in their nests around here. Scratch, and sting....

But back to live exports, anyone care to donate to Animals Australia? Ta in advance. I've sent a grand, how about matching that? Anyone?????????

Thanks for that, Jenny

A shameful and appalling record indeed!

Thanks, Jenny

Australia's live animal exports world's worst practice

Most alarming. This sadly confirms what was written in the article Why Australia's trade in live animal exports is world's WORST practice of 8 June 08.

Jenny, could I reproduce this on our website at candobetter.org/StopLiveAnimalExports?

James, by all means

James, Animals Australia gave me permission to publish this here. It is by no means copyright, it is a statement of facts put together by AA from all the sources and Government reports.

So go right ahead. I will tell AA that I have agreed. Just acknowledge that it was one of Animals Australia's fact sheets. You can google Animals Australia, litany of disasters and read it there as well. I corrected one point, where the AA site referred to the deaths of the large numbers of sheep landed in war devastated Kuwait. AA said after the Iran Iraq war when they clearly meant the first Gulf War.

Keep up the good fight. No amount of money can jusfity this level of animal abuse and cruelty.

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