Animals Australia is calling on Prime Minister Gillard to ban the live export trade to the Middle East after investigators documented shocking new evidence of brutality to Australian sheep.
Animals Australia investigators are currently in the Middle East for the 3 day Eid al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) during which millions of animals are sacrificed as part of religious celebrations. The Eid has been underway since November 16th.
Footage and photographs obtained in Kuwait and Bahrain show terrified Australian sheep being manhandled, trussed, thrown, shoved into car boots and lying across the bodies of other bloodied dying sheep on roadsides, before having their throats cut whilst fully conscious. In one incident in Kuwait three Australian sheep were forced into a boot whilst another terrified animal purchased for sacrifice was transported to a private premises chained by his neck to the winch of a tow truck.
Animals Australia investigator Lyn White remarks from Kuwait:
"It is unconscionable and immoral that Australia's live export industry provides animals for this Festival knowing full well the mammoth scale of cruelty that occurs each year. Animals Australia has previously proposed that at the very least this industry enter into agreements with importers to stop the on selling of sheep to private buyers, but even this small step to protect the welfare of sheep was refused.
"In 2008 the live sheep trade was banned to Egypt following evidence of brutal treatment which is exactly the same as what we have again documented yesterday in Kuwait -- the largest destination for Australian sheep. If the treatment that Australian sheep received in Egypt was unacceptable enough to ban the trade, then a similar ban needs to be implemented to Kuwait."
Australia has exported tens of millions of sheep to Kuwait for over 3 decades. The treatment of animals documented by Animals Australia investigators exposes the false claims of the live export industry that by being present in the region they can change attitudes towards animals.
"Meat & Livestock Australia's interest in improving animal welfare in the Middle East just happened to coincide with Animals Australia exposing the treatment of Australian sheep to the Australian public and subsequent calls for the live trade to end. Nothing MLA can do will overcome the terrible example they are setting by sending animals halfway around the world only to be slaughtered. The only message that the Middle East receives from Australia's live export industry is that animals are nothing more than chattels to be traded and slaughtered."
In Bahrain, a previous Animals Australia investigation forced Meat & Livestock Australia to implement an 'in the ute, not the boot' programme which was lauded as a success by MLA to alleviate welfare concerns in Australia. However local traders were filmed loading sheep at the MLA monitored feedlot, before trucking them to other locations in Manama where they were sold to Bahrainis who wanted to transport the animals home in their boots.
"The live export industry knows better than most the mammoth cruelty that is inflicted on millions of animals from many nations during the Festival of Sacrifice. This treatment of animals continues despite it being in conflict with Islamic teachings. A handful of MLA personnel on the ground is not going to address a problem that has been centuries in the making.
"The only significant animal welfare progress in the Middle East over the last decade has been in Jordan as a result of Animals Australia highlighting brutal treatment of animals to the Royal Family. For things to change for the better, someone has to have the courage to say, 'This is wrong; animals shouldn't be treated this way.' Supplying animals to be brutalised only makes Australia as complicit as those who physically abuse the animals during this festival."
Animals Australia will also be meeting with Dairy Australia after investigators filmed the shocking extended slaughter of two young dairy bulls -- one on a street in Kuwait and the other in a carpentry workshop.
"Australia has exported dairy heifers to Kuwait every year over the past decade. There is every likelihood that these animals were the progeny of Australian dairy cattle."
"We will be ensuring that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Ludwig receive a full copy of the evidence investigators have obtained. No-one who cares about animal welfare can condone the barbaric treatment of animals that occurs during this festival. Our government has a duty to protect Australian animals from being brutalised. Refusing to supply animals citing animal welfare concerns will provide a much needed wakeup call that will reverberate through all levels of society and set a precedent that animals and their welfare matters." concluded Lyn White from Kuwait.
More high resolution photos are available from: AnimalsAustralia.org/media/festival-of-sacrifice-2010-photos
Want to stay informed? Click here to sign up to our press release service.