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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : Export News Tasmania September 20, 2012, 11:18:31 PM

: The Silence of the Lambs
: Export News Tasmania September 20, 2012, 11:18:31 PM
Early in August, the Wellards  ship Ocean Drover left Fremantle on a multi-port destination voyage to the Middle East. More than 21,000 sheep were rejected upon arrival in Bahrain on the grounds that they had ‘scabby mouth disease’ – the same condition that saw the Cormo Express barred from entering all Middle Eastern ports in 2003. The Cormo Express, with 55,000 suffering and dying sheep on board, drifted aimlessly around the Persian Gulf for the best part of four months, and it was reported by Compassion in World Farming that only about 44,000 survived to finally be unloaded in Eritrea to a largely unknown fate and at a cost of millions of dollars to the Australian taxpayer.

 The sheep in Pakistan. Image: Animals Australia here (

 Sheep and newborn lambs swimming in a sea of excrement and urine – Cormo Express
 Photo: (

The Ocean Drover, formerly the Becrux, is almost fully enclosed, and the sheep left cold Australian winter to drift aimlessly for weeks in the searing temperatures of the Persian Gulf as Wellards scrambled to find somewhere to unload the unfortunate animals. Veterinarians state that it is highly likely that the sheep may have been infected with ‘scabby mouth’, as well as salmonella/enteritis complex, even before they left Australia.

 Lamb with ‘scabby mouth disease – photo (

About two weeks ago, Wellards found a destination for the sheep – Pakistan, and both they and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) claimed that the sheep had been sent to an Exporter Supply Chain Assurance Scheme (ESCAS) approved ‘market’. A quick review of DAFF’s website indicates that Pakistan is not an approved country, it is not even mentioned there, and it has never imported Australian sheep before. It appears too that no-one told the Pakistani government that 21,000 ‘diseased’ sheep had been unloaded there two weeks ago, but the suffering is not nowhere near over for the hapless animals. There is an ongoing argument that they are to be ‘culled’, but the exporter, Wellards, the importer and the Australian government are disputing this. The sheep have been ‘in transit’ for almost seven weeks with no end to their pitiful suffering in sight.

On September 14, it was reported that not only are the sheep infected by ‘scabby mouth’, or pustular dermatitis (or ‘orf’), they have also tested positive for salmonella, e-coli and highly contagious actinomyces, which are responsible for causing lumpy jaw disease in sheep. (

The Ocean Drover is currently back in Western Australia, either having loaded again already or could be about to load.

There are many questions to be answered here by the government.

1.   There is a vaccine available for ‘scabby mouth disease. Why is it not mandatory that all animals are so vaccinated?

 2.   How did this escape the exporter-employed and paid veterinarian? AQIS does not, as was claimed, inspect the animals, it merely signs off on what the exporters claim to be the truth.

 3.   Why was the Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian and Bahraini governments, requiring that all animals be unloaded in destination countries within 36 hours regardless of their health status, not enforced?

 4.   If the all the Memoranda of Understanding that the government boasts about having in place with all these countries, are in any way enforceable (which they are not) why is it that exporters have to provide a secondary, or fallback destination country, and why was it allowed to be Pakistan, which is not, and gives no indication of ever being, ESCAS approved?

 5.   By what means was an agreement struck between the exporter (Wellards) and the importer, that it was ‘ticked off’ by DAFF when it is not possible that this market is ESCAS compliant? Why is it that the Pakistani government apparently knew nothing about it until it found itself with 21,000 ill sheep landed there?

 6.   It is anyone’s guess whether these sheep are even being fed, and indeed, it may well be the case that they are too ill to eat

 7.   Why is Wellards being allowed to load the Ocean Drover again before a thorough investigation is undertaken into these matters? Moreover, DAFF relies upon statements from ships’ captains that the ships have been disinfected and de-contaminated, it carries out no testing itself. These are third world ships with third world crews.

 8.   Why are there no Australian independent veterinary personnel on the ground in Pakistan looking after the interests of these sheep?

 9.   By what means are these sheep to be destroyed? A bloody massacre, en masse, with knives and machetes? We are still trying to get to the truth of how Egypt recently butchered 30,000 ‘baby cows’ who were stranded on a broken down ship for over 6 weeks. (

Also in the last week, Emanuel Exports and its alter-ego International Livestock Exports were caught out again, after Animals Australia presented evidence of hundreds of Australian sheep being savagely butchered in the notoriously brutal, non-ESCAS approved Al Rai marketplace in Kuwait. Emanuels and ILE have been central to most of the recent scandals in this industry, from the infamous Al Kuwait case, numerous mortality reports, and in February this year, ILE was one of the exporters responsible for the cattle (still) being tortured in Indonesia.

Both these companies continue to trade without any penalty of any meaning or substance applied to them. Why? Because the investigating authority is DAFF, whose unassailable conflict of interest is formed by the fact that it not only is supposed to police this brutal trade, it actively promotes it. Deputy Secretary Philip Glyde conducted the February investigation, and DAFF did not bother to send a representative to Indonesia, merely relying on a desktop review of the film footage, comment by the RSPCA and statements from the exporters, International Livestock Exports (aka Emanuels) and Northern Australian Cattle Company. The outcome was that the exporters had to employ an ‘Animal Welfare’ officer in the slaughterhouses in Indonesia. Once again – like the veterinarians, the stockmen, the ‘independent’ auditors – employed and paid by the exporter/s. Not even a ripple in the trade, in reality. Mr Glyde claims the system is ‘working’ because Animals Australia is providing evidences of ‘glitches’. No mention of the fact that Animals Australia is a small charity, not a well-resourced government department which should be doing the job in an unbiased, objective manner, and protecting the interests of the animals. It is hard to believe the naivete, or, more likely, disingenuousness,  of such a senior public servant, and it will be interesting to see what he does, after probably months of hoping it will all go away, and whether there will be the slightest effort to protect the animals, because there has been absolutely nothing meaningful to date. Tragedy after tragedy, and misery upon wretched misery, for millions of Australian animals, year in, year out.

And where are the politicians and the media on this? The silence is deafening.
 Suzanne Cass
 Stop Tasmanian Animal Cruelty
 PO Box 252