Abuses during international animal transports


gasping sheepGAIA (Belgium) made the basis of this version of the script of the CIWF-film 'Some lie dying'.

International transports of animals

Each year millions of sheep, pigs and cattle are transported across Europe, often on extremely long journeys. The 1995 EU Transport Directive was hailed by EU governments as a measure which would help end the suffering involved in long distance transport. To find out whether the Directive is really working animal welfare investigators have been busy trailing the livestock trucks.
Many of the one million lambs and sheep exported each year from Britain are sent to staging points in Belgium and Holland. From there, after a break of around 24 hours, they are re-exported to abattoirs in Italy, Greece and Spain. Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) trailed these sheep all the way from Belgium to southern Italy on a journey which covered over 2000 kilometres and lasted for 30 hours. When the journey from the UK to Belgium is added, the animals probably travelled for well over 40 hours.
On an earlier occasion we managed to film inside the Italian abattoir in which the sheep we trailed were slaughtered. There we found animals being dragged along by their back legs to the stunning point. Huge numbers of sheep from Britain, France and Spain regularly pour into the Italian port of Bari from where they are shipped for slaughter in Greece. For the British animals these journeys to Greece can last anything from 65 to over 100 hours. On one occasion in Bari investigators came across two truckloads of UK and French sheep which had been left waiting for 48 hours for a ferry to Greece. Throughout this time the animals were kept on the trucks in blistering heat without any water. After two days they were in a desperate state - gasping and panting for air. Eventually, after repeated pleas from our investigators, the Italian authorities decided that the sheep should be unloaded. For many this came too late. As they helped in the unloading, our investigators found that a large number were dead or dying. During the next two more days more animals died. The official Italian veterinary report shows that altogether 115 UK lambs and 45 French sheep perished in this disaster. The whole of Europe is criss-crossed by these cruel journeys.
Over a million pigs a year are exported from Holland to Italy and Spain on journeys that can last for 40 or 50 hours or more. Thousands of cattle are exported every year from Ireland and Germany to Italy and Spain and from France to Greece. Moreover, young calves are shipped from Ireland to northern France and then on by road to Dutch veal farms. Here they are reared in small barren pens. Animals are often roughly treated during loading and unloading. Here in France cattle are being hit to move. The treatment of this calf is completly unacceptable. Each year, more than a hundred thousand horses are exported from eastern Europe for slaughter in the EU. Most come from Poland, Lithuania and Romania. For the majority the destination is Italy. Investigators from the German organisation, Animals' Angels, trailed these horses from Lithuania. They are driven through Poland to the staging point of Zebrzydowice near the border between Poland and the Czech Republic. They are then trucked through the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. By the time they get to Hungary the horses are often worn out, injured and stressed. And yet they are still only halfway through their long journey to Italian slaughterhouses. This horse has got its hoof caught in the truck's ventilation slats. Eventually it is put down. After that the worker sets about removing its hoof. Finally, the animal is hauled off the truck, another victim of the cruel horse trade. Donkeys, too, are sent from Romania through Hungary and on to Italian abattoirs. Some die halfway through the journey. These donkeys have great difficulty in climbing the steep ramp.
Our film now returns to the journey of the Lithuanian horses. From Hungary they are driven through Slovenia. At last, after travelling for 46 hours, they arrive in Italy. Here they are unloaded. No veterinary care, however, is available. It is a Sunday and no vets are present. The next day the journey starts again and the animals begin to cross Italy. The horses are now entering the fourth night of their journey. Eventually, at 10:30 in the evening, they reach the port of Piombino on the west coast of Italy. Here they are loaded on to a ferry which will take them to Sardinia. They arrive at the port of Olbia in Northern Sardinia at 7.00 the next morning. From there the animals are trucked across the island to Cagliari in the south. Here they are slaughtered. In all the journey from Lithuania to Sardinia was 2500 kilometres in length and lasted 95 hours.
Earlier we saw the suffering involved for British lambs exported to Greece. A terrible fate awaits those who survive the long journeys: slaughter in a Greek abattoir. We have managed to film in three Greek sheep abattoirs. Two made no attempt at all to stun the animals into unconsciousness before slaughter. They were simply dragged off the truck and into the abattoir. There their throats were cut while they were fully conscious and they were left to bleed to death. The third abattoir did stun the sheep, but so ineply that some regained consciousness from the stun before throat-cutting. Each year thousands of British sheep are exported for outdoor ritual slaughter at the annual Eid-el-Kabir festival in France. The animal in the background had its throat cut quite some time ago. Yet it is still alive and clearly in distress. The sheep are placed on tresles. Then they are held down and their throats are cut while they are fully conscious. Outdoor ritual slaughter is illegal under EU law.
Each year hundreds of thousands of cattle are exported from the EU - mainly from Ireland, Germany and France - to the Middle East and North Africa. At this Lebanese abattoir we find an Irish bull. The truck isn't equipped with a ramp to help unloading. Instead the animal simply tumbles out. His front leg had been tied to the side of the truck. This is done deliberately to position him by a drain. When his throat is cut, the blood will flow directly into the drain, rather than over the floor. Huge sums are paid out in subsidies to encourage the export of EU cattle to non-EU countries. The traders are being rewarded for keeping animals away from the EU's beef mountain. Usually in the Middle East animals are not stunned before slaughter. A German animal's throat is cut while it is fully conscious. The sound you can hear is the animal trying to breathe. The European Coalition for Farm Animals urges the EU to adopt a major change of policy whereby the long distance transport of live animals is abandoned and replaced by a trade in meat.

In the meantime in Australia: Australia is the biggest live animal exporting country in the world. Despite those economic considerations - this industry brings in around $900 million per annum, it comes at a far greater cost and Australians are saying this barbaric trade is not worth it. Live Export Shame has been developed for the purpose of informing the general public within Australia and overseas on all the issues surrounding the live export industry and the involvement of the Australian Government.

See also the pictures inside the stinking ship at Cape Town harbour carrying 19,000 cattle to the Middle East.

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