Author Topic: Live animal exports to Mauritius. 22.04.2012 Transcript and link to video  (Read 1254 times)

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Live animal exports to Mauritius. 22.04.2012 Transcript and link to video
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2013, 11:26:45 AM »
Mauritius Cattle Ship

It's described as an island of peace, prosperity and paradise. This is Mauritius [on screen]... a dream holiday destination, where opulence and scarcity converge.

It's Friday afternoon, peak hour in the capital, Port Louis - one of Africa's wealthiest cities. But we're not here to report on this island's rapid development or its refurbished skyline - we're tailing trucks jam-packed with cattle imported from South Africa for this man, Ahmed Seerally, the sole importer of cattle in Mauritius.

It's taken an hour for these bulls to move 500 metres and this after surviving a gruelling 11 days at sea from South Africa - just to be slaughtered.    (Video link)

Grace de Lange (NSPCA Farm Unit): "The tourists come here and they leave all their worries behind.  They come and relax, have a nice steak at the end of the evening, but they don't realise that the steak on their plate has had to suffer 11 days on the sea."

Grace de Lange, NSPCA's National Inspector, has seen blatant cruelty inflicted on farmed animals over the years. But nothing could prepare her for this assignment, which kicked off in the docks of East London.

Grace: "It's the first time I know of, that they have loaded 2017 cattle. The ship is also different from what we've been monitoring in the past... a lot bigger, so we had some concerns."

And it didn't take long for the first casualty.

Grace: "While one of the bulls were being off loaded, it sort of fell onto its head, its body on top of it and broke its leg. It then got up and ran onto the ship. There was an argument between the importer/exporter as to whose responsibility it was going to be."

To end its suffering, Grace made sure the bull was humanely euthanized.

Grace: "It's terrible because you feel so sorry for this animal and maybe, in a way, it sounds horrible to say... at least it's been slaughtered before he has to endure this long journey just to be slaughtered here."

The export of live animals to Mauritius for slaughter raised hackles when exposed on Carte Blanche more than a decade ago [Carte Blanche 1998]. The cattle suffered from heat stress, overcrowding, motion sickness and physical trauma.

So what's changed? We spoke to Bruce Page, the exporter from East London who says a lot has improved since our last story.

[On phone] Bruce Page (Exporter): "Things have changed a hell of a lot."

[On phone] Journalist: "How have things changed for the better?"

[On phone] Bruce: "We are using better ships... it's a much more professional situation."

Last year, there were three live exports for slaughter to Mauritius. He says there's less demand from the island.

[On phone] Bruce: "There [is[ not that many cattle any more, I'm only loading a ship again in July. I mean, I have only sent one ship this year. It's not as regular as what it was. Our cattle are too expensive at the moment and they are getting cattle out of Australia."

In the wake of the cruelty we exposed, the NSPCA demanded better conditions on vessels, which now have to be approved by the Department of Agriculture as well.

Dr Botlhe Modisane (Department Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries): "I have the assurance from the veterinarian who was doing the health check at the station that the animals were in healthy condition when they were certified and which is a condition of export."

Dr Botlhe Modisane, Chief Director of Animal Production and Health and also a vet, says it would be preferable for animals destined for slaughter to be transported by air.

Dr Modisane: "We are not going to allow animals to be exported by ship if the journey is going to be more than seven days."

But on this cattle ship, rules and regulations don't seem to hold any water.

Grace: "On the first level it would appear fine, but when you go down, there is lighting, but it's going down into darkness. The smell of ammonia by the time they were finished loading - eyes were burning. They said that they would only start cleaning once they were several kilometres out to sea."

It took two days to load more than two thousand bulls onto the Barkly Pearl, a ship hired from Australia with an accredited stock man on board.

Grace: "They do have somebody on board to treat the animals, but if it was too bad they would slaughter the animal on board and dispose of the carcass in the sea."

South Africa and Mauritius are members of the World Organization for Animal Health, which sets international welfare standards for trade in livestock. But no-one really knows what goes on once animals leave our shores.

Grace: "And that's why we've now come to determine: Are the animals getting out alive? How has the suffering been on board?"

Back in South Africa, the NSPCA does final checks to ensure the availability of concentrated food and water.

Grace: "It was really sad because the animals just looked depressed; they lay on each other... they basically have only got enough room to turn around to be able to sit down."

And this was only the beginning - they still had 4 000 kilometres to go. 11 Days later the Barkly Pearl arrived in Port Louis.

Grace: "My first aim was to go below deck, and as soon as we walked at the bottom there, we couldn't breathe and on the bottom layers the cows were just [laying] there. They didn't have any energy, their eyes were bulging... just the effort of having to lift their heads... [laying] in the faeces."

One would expect everything to be shipshape seeing that the importer knew that the NSPCA was in town. But some animals were so weak that they could barely move.

Grace: "They were using electrical prodders on board, using them on the testicles... they would pull them by their noses, they would twist their tales. The one guy even bit one of the tails."

The NSPCA tried its best to stop the cruelty, but with no jurisdiction outside our borders, there was little officials could do. This interview was filmed in South Africa, a couple of days after the off-loading in Port Louis.

Grace: "And the one that I saw that was really like heart wrenching, it was... sorry... (emotional)."

This particular bull hadn't been able to get enough water.

Grace: "I said to them: 'Put water in for it.' And he basically found the strength to stand up because they were trying to get him off board. And they would just pull the trough and he would just follow the trough trying to get enough water, showing he hadn't had water for a long time."

Even when the cattle were moving, they were beaten.

Grace: "And while they were being offloaded on the offloading ramp... even though they are moving forward, he would take a big plank and use his force to really slam into them."

When we spoke to the Mauritian cattle importer's spokesperson, Ahmed Sammeer, he denied the use of prodders.

Ahmed Sameer (Spokesperson Mauritian Importer): "This is not allowed by the government, by the authority - the police. If you got someone with this, you will have to get a fine and go to jail."

But it's well known that there's hardly any law enforcement when it comes to animal welfare in Mauritius, so the NSPCA wants cattle to be slaughtered locally and the meat shipped.

Grace: "As far as I know, they want to slaughter it halaal here. The difference in South Africa is that they will pre-stun the animals, so when the neck is cut there is no feeling whatsoever - the animal is unconscious.  Whereas here, they basically will restrain the animal and just cut the neck and the animal will be totally conscious."

Gerhard Schutte from the Red Meat Producers Organization is also opposed to this practice.

Gerhard Schutte (Red Meat Producers Organization): "At the end of the day we know there's a problem in terms of religious slaughtering, but we don't see why it can't be done in South Africa."

Ahmed: "We don't have enough cattle to supply the local market, that's why we need to import."

Most of their imports come from Australia - the world's largest exporter of animals for slaughter. Recently animal rights organisations sparked government to put in place a framework making exporters responsible for the welfare of the animals sent for slaughter. But on this island demand and economics outweigh animal welfare.

Ahmed: "The Muslim people like to eat fresh meat; they prefer the animals to be slaughtered today; they use the meat the same day."

The supply chain goes something like this: Mauritian butchers place orders with Ahmed Seerally, who imports from Kenya, South Africa and Australia. Between 2005 and 2008, 38 000 head of cattle were imported for slaughter. It has more to do with feeding the elite, than food security.

The average price for a steak is around R200.

Back at the docks, the off-loading began at midday - and continued until the early hours of the morning.

We showed the footage to the Department of Agriculture and the Red Meat Producers Association.

Gerhard: "That's not on and that should not happen... They don't look really fine to me. Compared with what we see in our industry in terms of road transport, this is not really acceptable."
Dr Modisane: "What I saw on the footage - it is not acceptable, it's not a situation we could advocate. The most striking thing was the fact that the dung was accumulating, and I don't think that is acceptable."

Grace: "Some of them that were coming off from the bottom were limping and you would just hear them say 'Abattoir truck, abattoir truck!' So they had come all that way and were sent directly to the abattoir."

The offloading took just under 14 hours and three bulls had to be euthanized because of injuries and exhaustion. The others, barely alive, then had to endure another hour by truck to reach their destination. Three days later some would be hauled off to the abattoir.
But how do we stop this cruel trade?

Dr Modisane: "I'm sure that we will work a lot in terms of trying to rectify what is wrong."

The NSPCA is not prepared to give up - first priority is to stop the loading of the bottom carriage.

Grace: "Any new ships that are coming they will not be loaded on the bottom."

Over 85 000 Australians have joined the Humane Chain to call for an end to live exports. But, will South Africa be the first to sink the ship of horrors? 

Date:22 April 2012
Producer: Nikki Otto
Researcher: Tshediso Sesioana
Show: Carte Blanche

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER:While every attempt has been made to ensure this transcript or summary is accurate, Carte Blanche or its agents cannot be held liable for any claims arising out of inaccuracies caused by human error or electronic fault. This transcript was typed from a transcription recording unit and not from an original script, so due to the possibility of mishearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, errors cannot be ruled out.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 11:31:21 AM by WA Export News »