Live exports under fire after Australian cattle cruelly treated in Middle East
A sheep struggles to move after its legs were bound. Photo: Animals Australia A bull violently struggles on the back of a truck. Photo: Animals Australia
A sheep suffering on the back of a truck. Other sheep were filmed being cruelly stuffed into wheelbarrows and car boots. Photo: Animals Australia
The campaign to end live exports has reignited after new vision emerged showing horrifying mistreatment of Australian animals in Middle Eastern countries.
The footage, filmed by animal welfare activist group Animals Australia, shows sheep and cattle being inhumanely slaughtered in the streets of Gaza, Jordan and Kuwait.
In one disturbing video, a bull is tied up and repeatedly stabbed in the neck in Gaza. In another, a bull is strung out between poles on the back of a truck and has its throat crudely sawn.
In Kuwait and Jordan, Merino sheep are filmed being stuffed in wheelbarrows and car boots with their legs bound, others are shown struggling as they bleed to death from rough cuts to their necks.
The video was taken in early October during the Islamic festival of sacrifice known as Eid al-Adha and was first aired on Wednesday night on ABC’s Lateline program.
Animals Australia said the bulls’ ear tags identify them as Australian and belonging to the Perth-based Livestock Shipping Services (LSS).
The group claimed the same exporter has been reported for more than a dozen breaches of regulations in the Middle East.
Campaign director Lyn White said the abuse could have been stopped had the Department of Agriculture taken stronger action against exporters who ignored regulations.
“It is nothing short of criminal that we have again seen horrendous abuse of Australian cattle in Gaza, while for the exporter legally responsible it is business-as-usual,” Ms White said.
“Despite extensive evidence of recurring breaches and shocking animal welfare consequences, there has not been a single prosecution of an export company, or a single charge laid.”
Ms White said ear tags had been deliberately removed from the sheep so their sources could not be identified but the marketplace where they were slaughtered had been the subject of nine previous complaints.
“What we have documented should be considered only a ‘snapshot’ of what occurred,” she said. “Sheep and cattle producers should be equally up in arms at the lack of regulatory action that has led to their animals being abused once again.”
The Department of Agriculture introduced the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) two years ago in a bid to stop Australian cattle from being slaughtered outside authorised abattoirs.
The system was introduced after a 2011 ABC Four Corners report documented cruelty to Australian animals exported to Indonesia.
Following a public outcry about the footage, the-then Labor government temporarily suspended the export of all live cattle to Indonesia.
Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of live sheep and the fifth-largest exporter of live cattle. It exports up to 4 million sheep and cattle each year.
In a statement to Lateline, Livestock Shipping Services said it was aware of possible supply chain breaches in Gaza and was working to ensure its animals remained within the approved system. It said it could not link the sheep in the markets in Jordan or Kuwait to its shipments.
A spokesman for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce said a review of ESCAS would soon be released and the minister did “not want to pre-empt this report”.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council chief executive Alison Penfold said ESCAS had created a cattle “black market” by stopping the supply of Australian livestock to legitimate market businesses, particularly in the Middle East.
Ms Penfold said the council was working to stop animals from being removed from approved supply chains in high-risk periods like Eid al-Adha by encouraging abattoirs to move to carcass sales systems rather than selling live animals to the public.
The council is also looking to invest in the development of new tamper proof ear tags and methods to ensure the swifter destruction of tags from slaughtered livestock.
Ms Penfold said the number of livestock leaked from supply chains was relatively small when compared to the millions of animals exported.
“Livestock are our livelihood and the welfare of the animals matters to us so to see such cruelty executed pains us as well,” she said.
“While our performance is at times imperfect, in the main we are securing the welfare of exported livestock. We are striving to root out those elements that undermine our efforts and cause unnecessary pain and suffering of animals as we have seen tonight.”