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The latest heart-breaking exposé of the live-export industry shows the horrifying conditions endured by nearly 64,000 sheep sent from Fremantle to the Middle East aboard the Awassi Express– a vessel run by Australia's largest sheep exporter, Emanuel Exports – in August 2017. Approximately 2,400 of the animals died from heat stress.
In response to the footage, the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has cancelled the company's export licence as well as that of its subsidiary EMS Rural Exports. We must push for these cancellations to be the first step towards a permanent ban on all live-animal exports.
© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
The footage filmed on the Awassi Express and other Emanuel Exports voyages isn't exceptional in the live-export industry. Every year, Australia exports millions of live animals to countries in the Middle East, forcing them to endure a gruelling trip across the Indian Ocean, sometimes in searing heat, that may take weeks. More than 200 million animals have been crammed onto filthy cargo ships over the last 30 years, and more than 2.5 million of them have been trampled to death or have died from dehydration, starvation, or disease.
In December 2018, the government released draft advice for a new test for measuring animal-welfare standards on board ships that take live sheep to the Middle East.The draft advice recommends that these ships be allowed to reach no higher than a wet-bulb temperature of 28 degrees. Since air temperatures reach over 45 degrees in the Middle East during the summer, such rules could prevent the industry from shipping live sheep for much of the year and may make it no longer financially viable ever to send animals on these terrible voyages of despair.
The suffering that the sheep endure doesn't end for those who survive the journey. There are virtually no laws in place in the Middle East to protect these animals, and they're often subjected to abuse and methods of slaughter that would be illegal in this country. Investigators have seen animals being roughly dragged from ships, sometimes by their legs. Many are thrown into trucks and cars, and most of their throats are cut with blunt or unsuitable knives – while they're still conscious.
Not only is live export bad for animals, it's also bad for the environment. The live-export trade is one of the top 40 carbon dioxide emitters in Australia. Cattle and sheep may be transported thousands of kilometres by truck before reaching the ships, while the empty vessels journeying back to Australia collect their next load and create further emissions.
By refusing to end live export during the hottest months of the year, the government is complicit in the suffering and deaths of sensitive, gentle animals. Make sure federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud know this by sending him a letter via the form below.