LAST UPDATED: 8 October 2019
Sadly, Egypt has a tragic track record on animal welfare. Many thousands of stray dogs are poisoned with strychnine by the Egyptian Veterinary Authority (GOVS) each year. The Cairo Zoo was expelled from the World Zoo Authority due to its terrible conditions, whilst the treatment of livestock during handling, transport and slaughter has been internationally condemned.
Despite this - and the lack of any enforceable animal protection laws, Australia has exported over one million cattle and hundreds of thousands of sheep to Egypt since 1995. Animals Australia has on numerous occasions raised dire and well-founded concerns which resulted from information provided by Egyptians with the Federal Government and live export industry over the treatment of Australian animals.
Animals Australia December 2006 Investigation
In December 2006 Animals Australia's Communication Director Lyn White, in company with an independent UK investigator, spent four days in Cairo documenting the treatment of Australian sheep in the days leading up to the Eid-al-Adha - the Muslim 'Festival of Sacrifice' - which commences at the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca each year.
The purpose of this investigation was to monitor compliance with the new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated by the Australian government with Egypt in an attempt to protect the welfare of Australian exported animals.
The Egyptian live trade had been suspended on animal welfare grounds by Peter McGauran, Australia's Minister for Agriculture at the time, in February 2006 after Animals Australian investigators documented cattle having their tendons slashed and eyes stabbed in Cairo's Bassateen Abattoir and the footage went to air on 60 Minutes.
In announcing the signing of the MOU and the re-opening of the trade with Egypt, Minister McGauran said, "Egypt had provided assurances that the health and welfare of Australian livestock exported to Egypt would be protected in line with agreed international standards."
The international standards which the Egyptians had committed to implementing were the OIE (World Animal Health Authority)standards and are very basic guidelines as to what is acceptable treatment of animals. The routine abuse of animals witnessed by Animals Australia investigators in January 2006 left them with dire concerns about the capacity, and therefore the intention, of the Egyptian authorities to ensure compliance with the new MOU.
During the four-day investigation in Egypt in late December 2006 Animals Australia investigators continually documented extensive breaches of the MOU and OIE standards, and the welfare repercussions for Australian sheep.
Investigators documented the treatment of Australian sheep at all selling points in Cairo. Australian sheep purchased from markets were on each occasion dragged from the holding pen by either legs, horns, wool or head, then manhandled onto the ground and three legs tied with rope.
Trussed sheep were then weighed and a purchase price ascertained.
On hundreds of occasions terrified trussed sheep were observed being shoved into the car boots of the purchasers.
On many occasions two or three sheep were crammed into small boots
On one occasion three trussed sheep were tied to the roof rack of a car for a 90 minute journey to a nearby city..
Investigators also documented frightened Australian sheep being slaughtered on the morning of the Eid in a centre quadrangle of a shopping centre in the affluent area of Maadi.
At the same location, the appalling final minutes of a terrified young bull were documented. The treatment this animal received was one of the worst abuses of an animal investigators had documented. The bull was transported on a ute with its front legs tied together with rope. With no unloading ramp the bull was forced backwards from the ute falling on its side on the road. The terrorized animal then struggled against the slaughtermen trying to pull it to the slaughter area outside the shopping centre. When the animal wouldn't comply, one slaughterman slashed the rear left leg tendon of the bull. Slaughtermen then dragged the crippled bull with front legs tied and rear leg tendon slashed to a footpath continually twisting and bending its tail using the pain as leverage to get the animal to move. In front of a crowd of onlookers this poor animal, who by this time had collapsed on the ground, was held down by four men whilst its head was twisted for the throat cut. See the video of this cruelty.