VICTORY: South Africa's High Court puts hold on sheep exports!

A live exporter sailed to South Africa with the intention of shipping 70,000 animals into the dangerous Northern summer. But the NSPCA were waiting for them.

LAST UPDATED: 13 June 2020

After failing in their first attempt to export live sheep from Australia during the banned and deadly Northern summer, a live export company faced its second rejection in just a few weeks as animal advocates joined forces across the world to spare animals from the very worst cruelty. 

A huge live export company responsible for the deaths of more than 1.5 million sheep on board its ships — only recently tried to get an exemption to condemn 56,000 Australian sheep to export during the most dangerous time of year. The ban on sheep exports from Australia during the Northern summer period began from June 1st, but after a COVID-19 outbreak on one of its ships resulted in delays, the Kuwaiti-owned company pushed for an exemption to be given so that they could export sheep to the Middle East — despite knowing that doing this would place tens of thousands of animals at risk of cooking alive. The Department of Agriculture's initial response was a firm 'no'.

Celebration turned to frustration, however, as the live exporter, on second application, was tragically permitted to 'waive' Australian laws and set sail with a reduced shipment. The public outcry was overwhelming — and made it clearer than ever before that the majority of Australians want to see the end of this callous trade in living beings.

It's important to note here just why Australia has implemented a sheep export ban during the Northern summer period — it's because that while animals suffer year-round, temperatures during the Northern summer soar to a point that live export ships turn into 'floating ovens' — and sheep are at risk of literally cooking alive, as was exposed in a damning exposé on 60 Minutes.

Despite knowing the animal welfare risk, exporters still wanted to send more sheep into the blistering heat of the Northern summer.

So off they headed to South Africa where 70,000 sheep were being readied to export. Such was this company's confidence that they could simply sail in and take the animals, they even started loading them onto trucks. But that's where their journey ended.

Because our friends at the NSPCA (National Council of SPCAs) were waiting. As soon as the ship arrived, this dedicated organisation sought an urgent injunction from the High Court to stop the animals being loaded onto the vessel. And they won.

For now, 70,000 more sheep are safe from export — and while we can celebrate this landmark court victory for animals, this is a temporary reprieve pending the full case, scheduled to be heard in early-August. But we know the team at NSPCA will give it their all, and we are proud to work with and support their legal efforts to stand up to the profit-driven live export company — and spare sheep from the cruellest of fates.

Exporters continue to reveal their flagrant disregard for animal welfare

One of the live export industry's key PR lines is that if they can't get animals from Australia, they'll just go elsewhere — they often trot this line out in defense of Australia continuing live export. But if anything, it shows what little regard for animals they have. Australian authorities have determined that shipping sheep into the Northern summer is cruel and should no longer occur. So what does the live export industry do? What it has done for decades — ignore the science, ignore the evidence, disregard the risks to animals and attempt to carry on live exporting anyway. What they didn't count on is that our reach extends far beyond Australia. 

Animals Australia is collaborating with advocates all around the world who, like us, are determined to protect animals from this global trade in animal suffering. If they show up in Romania, we are there. If they show up in South Africa, we are there. Wherever live export exists, animals will suffer — wherever live exporters go, we will too.

The fight continues, but today — 70,000 sheep remain safe on dry land, and our collective efforts to dismantle its cruel business model — one built on extreme animal cruelty — are working.


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