Thousands of Sheep in Live Export Horror

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South Africa’s National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is horrified at the arrival of the Al Shuwaikh vessel which is set to dock in the East London Harbor to load a “consignment” of 60,000 sheep destined for the Middle East. The Al Shuwaikh vessel anchored in South Africa’s East London Harbor this morning.

Al Mawashi, a Kuwaiti importer, has registered a company in South Africa and is using a local exporter, the Page Farming Trust, to facilitate the acquisition of some 60,000 sheep and loading them onto the vessel around September 17, 2019. Their intention is to export 600,000 sheep, goats and cattle annually.

The route and climatic conditions of the voyage from South Africa to the Middle East will cross the Arabian Sea and enter the Strait of Hormuz. These areas are confirmed high risk areas for heat stress during the period of May to October.

Animals can easily die of heat-related ailments on this voyage. Image credit NSPCA.

The high temperatures in this area, which remain persistently high without relief (even overnight), render sheep incapable of regulating their body temperature. Evidence has shown that during voyages between May to October, the combined heat and humidity can reach catastrophic levels causing heat stroke, resulting in sheep “cooking alive.”

Heat is not the only concern relating to this brutal practice. Animals are further compromised to the extent of, but not limited to:

  1. Lack of appetite leading to exhaustion
  2. Salmonellosis (well attested to in both literature and official documents)
  3. High stocking density, which leads not only to physical discomfort and an inability to rest, but also food and water restrictions
  4. Pneumonia from multiple causes
  5. Motion sickness
  6. Change in lighting period and photoperiod, resulting in stress and an impaired immune system
  7. Physical trauma and injuries (trampling and injuries caused by rough seas)

More than 100,000 liters of urine and feces accumulate on a typical live export ship every day sheep are on board. The ship won’t be “washed out” until after the animals have disembarked. The weeks of untreated waste build-up mixed with high temperatures will create a lethal slurry of excrement, making it dangerous for animals to lie down, as they risk being buried alive. The ammonia from the excrement poisons the air, burns the eyes and throats of those on board, and often leads to respiratory infections.

Sheep on a transport truck headed to live export, in this instance in Australia. Live export is cruel and adds additional suffering to the difficult lives of farmed animals. Image credit Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals.

“Many animals will not survive the journey, the cumulative deaths on the fleets of Al Mawashi for the period from 1980 to the first half of 2017 is more than 1.5 million individuals. Those that survive the voyage will then face the horrors of arriving in a country where there are no animal protection laws. They will be shoved into boots of cars, handled inhumanely, and slaughtered fully conscious, often by unskilled slaughterers and in the presence of other animals,” explained Senior Inspector Grace De Lange, manager of the NSPCAs Farm Animal Protection Unit.

The NSPCA believes that live export by sea for the purposes of slaughter is completely unacceptable and unnecessary. South Africa must take a stand against this abhorrent and unnecessary practice.

Make your voice heard – sign the petition to the South African government here.


Featured image: a live export ship packed full of sheep. Image credit NSPCA.

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The NSPCA was founded in 1955 as the Federation of SPCAs to provide a forum to bring uniformity to welfare legislation and standards. The SPCAs in South Africa are governed by the SPCA Act 169 of 1993 which is administered by the NSPCA, constituting us as a statutory body. Inspectors are authorised in terms of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 and the Performing Animals Protection Act No. 24 of 1935 with the SPCA movement collectively undertaking over 90% of all animal welfare investigations and prosecutions in South Africa. The NSPCA operates on a national basis with a team of dedicated Inspectors, who are specialists in their fields. We work tirelessly to protect animals from neglect and abuse and enforce the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 when deliberate cruelty takes place. The lives of tens of thousands of animals are improved because of our passion, our intervention, and our commitment to bring about long-term positive change for farmed animals, wildlife, research animals, domestics and animals used in entertainment and sport. In a country that spans over a million square kilometres, there are areas where there is no SPCA, no animal welfare organisations and no veterinary services. The NSPCA plays a vital role in bringing extraordinary support to these people and their animals. Click to see author's profile.

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