Author Topic: Cruelty accusations focus attention on breeding exports 7.30, 18.09.2012  (Read 803 times)

Export News Tasmania

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Cruelty accusations focus attention on breeding exports 7.30, 18.09.2012
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2012, 12:04:35 AM »
There are no safeguards around the export of animals to live overseas but images showing neglect to Australian sheep and cattle in the Middle East may raise this issue, and a warning that this story contains images some people may find distressing.


LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Animal liberationists have long campaigned for and won better regulation of the slaughter of Australian livestock sold overseas. Now they're voicing concerns about animals shipped overseas to breed. Currently there are no safeguards for such animals, and 7.30 can reveal cases of Australian sheep and cattle dying from neglect in the Middle East.

Guy Stayner reports, and a warning: some people may find some images in this story distressing.

GUY STAYNER, REPORTER: The rolling hills of South Gippsland. With good rainfall, fertile soil and lush pastures, this region has been one of Australia's prime dairy districts for over 100 years. It's a long way from the deserts of Arabia.

MELINDA NEIST, FARMER: An agent came here from Qatar and he brought his PA with him. They came and they had a look around and looked at my stud herd, and they were very interested in purchasing stud cattle for breeding in Qatar.

GUY STAYNER: The cattle would go to a farm north of Dohar called Al Waab, owned by Qatari prince Sheikh Abdullah Bin Khalid Al Thani.

MELINDA NEIST: One comment from the PA was, "Yes, these cattle are going to better conditions than what I have in my apartment in Paris."

GUY STAYNER: Vet technician Deb Clarke was invited to inspect the farm, but rather than Parisian luxury she found a lack of infrastructure to support the thousands of sheep, goats and cattle coming from Australia.

DEB CLARKE, VET TECHNICIAN: There's no facilities there, there's no yards, there's no races, there's no crush, there's no water freely available.

GUY STAYNER: She agreed to become a consultant to the farm to better manage the animals. After training staff and organising infrastructure, Deb Clarke thought she was getting on top of desert farming. That perception was shattered last month.

DEB CLARK: The basic structures were in place, and I came home for 10 days and returned to Qatar, and the animals hadn't been fed, no one had checked the air-conditioning in the calf unit - and it was over 50 degrees heat - and there were just dead, dying animals everywhere, and I was just absolutely heartbroken. I was in tears. Animals were too weak to even stand, they were lying in hot sand. They were frying, literally cooking, and those kind of temperatures of 50 plus degrees they were frying from the inside out. It was absolutely shocking.

GUY STAYNER: Deb Clarke took dozens of photos documenting what she saw.

DEB CLARKE: Well this cow's heat exhausted; she's had, you know, malnutrition and she's very, very dehydrated.

GUY STAYNER: She recommending putting the cow down.

DEB CLARKE: The worker sawed that cow's throat open with a pocket knife.

GUY STAYNER: She saw 64 cows die in one week. Many of the cattle sent to Qatar were once owned by Melinda Neist.

MELINDA NEIST: It's just unbearable grief, devastation; it's just awful. I can't bear to think of it, and I've heard about the conditions.

GUY STAYNER: These are her cows being shipped at the start of the year. A few months later they were little more than skin and bone, and dying in the heat. She still hasn't been able to look at the photos.

MELINDA NEIST: I wouldn't be able to cope with it. That would stick with me. I can't... it's bad enough knowing the conditions, I just don't want to... I can't look at the photos.

GUY STAYNER: 10,000 sheep were exported to Al Waab farm in February. Deb Clarke says there's only 3,000 left.

MELINDA NEIST: I now believe that the agent has deceived all of us.

GUY STAYNER: The buying agent is this man, REED-er HAF-ee-yan [phonetic]. He told 7.30 he was in Paris and unavailable for interview. He later said he was in Perth. He says only 20 sheep died and about 50 dairy cows, and says Deb Clarke is to blame for changing the cows' feed.

MELINDA NEIST: We were all deceived, I believe, into thinking that our cattle would be going into conditions that we would be comfortable with; that they would be going in to conditions that they wouldn't be put at risk, that they wouldn't be neglected. That didn't happen.

GUY STAYNER: Melinda Neist and Deb Clarke are speaking out, fearing history is about to repeat. They say at the end of October another 10,000 sheep, 3,000 goats and 200 dairy cattle are planned to be shipped to the Al Waab farm.

DEB CLARKE: There is absolutely nowhere for these animals to fit. There is no room for them, and there's no facilities for them.

GUY STAYNER: While Australia has significant regulation of cattle shipped in the export-for-slaughter market, there's virtually nothing safeguarding livestock being shipped to another country to live.

PHIL GLYDE, DEPUTY SECRETARY, DEPT OF AGRICULTURE: This is the first time we've had any evidence of mistreatment of animals that have been exported for breeding purposes.

HEATHER NEIL, RSPCA AUSTRALIA: We need a system that's going to protect all dairy cows and breeding animals leaving our shores so that they... we do know where they're going, we do know how they're going to be treated, and at the end of their productive life we know they're going to be slaughtered well, too.

PHIL GLYDE: We are examining that, that's part of the overall review that we're doing in livestock animals.

GUY STAYNER: In the last two years, 180,000 dairy cattle have been exported from Australia to 18 countries. Deb Clarke is joining forces with the RSPCA this week, lobbying the Federal Government for change, and to halt export to Al Waab farm. For some farmers it's already too late.

MELINDA NEIST: I will never export cattle ever again, ever. 

Reporter: Guy Stayner 
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 12:06:06 AM by Export News Tasmania »