Author Topic: Animal rights activists angered as Australia resumes live export to Saudi Arabia  (Read 960 times)

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CAIRO: Animal rights activists are crying foul and demanding the Australian government revoke its decision to resume live export of animals to the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom of Saudi


Cattle crowd ships for live export from Australia headed to the Islamic world.

A Saudi newspaper quoted Australia’s Ambassador to Riyadh Neil Hawkins as saying the live trade in animals, mainly sheep and cows, will resume after nearly three years in hiatus.

The kingdom will receive the first shipment of Australian animals, consisting of 75,000 sheep and 6,000 cows, by next month, ahead of the Eid holiday, the daily newspaper said.

Australia had exported some one million animals annually to the Gulf country previously, making up around 60 percent of its live animal imports, before importers stopped getting shipments due to the appreciation of the Australian dollar, the newspaper cited Hawkins as saying.

It comes on the heels of a minor victory for Australian animal rights advocates after the Indonesian government announced that less than 100,000 animals are to be imported from Australia over the final half of 2012.

According to a Stock and Land news report, that means the total number of animals forced to make the lengthy journey in cramped cages to Indonesia will drop from 410,000 last year to 283,000.

Still a large number, but Australian animal rights advocate Mary Stenson told from Sydney that it “is a step in the right direction to end this barbaric activity.”

Import permits were initially issued at an even 125,000 a quarter last year – but this year only 60,000 permits were issued in the first quarter and 125,000 for the second period, as protests from animal rights groups in Australia continue to gain support and power against the massive cattle industry.

In a statement to Fairfax Agricultural Media this week, a Federal Agriculture Department spokesperson said the Indonesian Ministry of Trade had recently “signed off on import permits for another 98,000 head of live feeder cattle for the rest of the year.”

However, the statement said the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture could reassess the supply and demand situation following the annual month-long Ramadan religious festival – which is scheduled to start on July 20 this year – to determine if additional imports are needed to supplement domestic cattle supplies.

Still, there is much work to be done across the live export world, especially with the holy month of Ramadan in full swing.

The Bahrain government has said it will import more than 100,000 sheep from Australia through the Bahrain Livestock Company (BLC), which also plans to provide around 1,500 frozen sheep a day to cover potential shortages in the market.

The Industry and Commerce Ministry’s Consumer Protection Directorate is spending some BD50 million ($132.6 million) to subsidize prices to ensure the imported meat is affordable for everyone.

“During the month of Ramadan, meat is consumed more than any other month in the year,” said BLC chairman Ibrahim Zainal.

“This year we are expecting a consumption of around 120,000 sheep during the month. We assure the public that there will not be any shortage of beef or mutton. The prices will be stable and among the most competitive in the Gulf region.

“The government will subsidise the livestock with around BD50 million which is a great initiative which makes prices reasonable and among the cheapest in the whole region.

“Around 102,000 sheep will be brought in the country during Ramadan, almost 62,000 will come in two weeks from Australia, while other 40,000 will come during the holy month. We will try our best to cover any shortage of meat, therefore, we will provide extra 1,500 Pakistani and Australian frozen sheep.”

Across the region, animals will be imported and slaughtered for food, but in Australia, there is a growing anger towards the practice, which has witnessed a turning tide in public opinion.
2011 was a watershed moment in Australia, as images of brutally beaten, tortured and slaughtered animals as part of the live export industry from the country saw massive outpouring of anger and numerous calls for the end of the controversial practice. However, it has not resulted in any tangible bans, despite short one-month bans on exports to Indonesia during last summer.

“Despite public opposition, the live export industry continues to expand its trade into new markets with the full knowledge that the routine slaughter practices in importing countries fall well below the standards expected by the Australian community,” Oogies continued.

“The Gillard Government’s new rules for live export permits, which are being rolled out to all markets over the next 12 months, do not require animals to be stunned before slaughter. As a result, millions of cattle and sheep will not only still face the grueling sea voyage to foreign countries, those that survive will still risk brutal slaughter without stunning in overseas abattoirs,” the organization’s chief continued.

Still, there are many activists who believe that the public opinion change can have positive effects moving ahead into 2012. Jamie Thompson, a Sydney-based animal advocate and campaigner to end the live export trade, told via telephone that the industry is “on it’s last breath.”

She argued that “throughout this year, never before had the live export trade been so appalling and public, with videos online revealing the true nature of such disgusting treatment of living beings.”

For her, and others in Australia and around the world, the live export trade has become synonymous with animal cruelty, leaving many to question if the industry, despite its massive lobby in Australia, can survive.

Joseph Mayton 31.07.2012
« Last Edit: June 09, 2014, 01:17:00 PM by WA Export News »