One of the worst live export tragedies is finally over leaving 2,750 cattle dead out of 5,600 on board a Brazilian ship headed to Egypt. The remaining animals are on land, after being stranded in the Red Sea for a week.
Animal welfare group, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) said the Gracia Del Mar was carrying 5,600 animals from Brazil to Egypt to be slaughtered for food. The ship first got into trouble after running into bad weather. Later the converted livestock ship had problems with its ventilation and food systems. The combination of these complications caused half the cattle on board to suffer and die.
Animals Australia called the incident, “one of the worst shipboard disasters the live export industry has seen in many years.” The animal rights group pleaded with the Australian government to send resources to help the surviving cattle.
When the Gracia Del Mar arrived at Port Said, Egypt which should have been the end of their journey, they were refused permission to dock because of the dead animals. The captain made the decision to sail through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea and try three more ports in Djibouti, Sudan and Eritrea, but they were turned away again.
Ultimately the ship became stranded in the Red Sea with the suffering cows inside.
Animals Australia reported that authorities considered moving the remaining cattle onto smaller boats in the Horn of Africa and then sailing them to shore. Activists urged officials that this was inhumane and to unload the cattle directly onto dry land.
Finally on Tuesday, word was received that all of the live animals had been taken off the ship. Animal groups are now trying to learn the whereabouts of the cows.
“We have been unable to verify the latest reports but are continuing in our efforts to find out what is happening with the surviving cattle and trying to ensure their humane treatment after the harrowing journey they have been forced to endure,” CIWF said.
“What is clear at the moment is the incident is another example of why long distance travel for farm animals should be ended.”
Lyn White, Director of Animals Australia worried about the consequences to the animals if the ship had “broken down on the open ocean.” “It would have caused a catastrophe,” she said.
Peter Kane of the Australian Live Export Council condemned some of the guidelines of the Brazilian cattle export business, but touted the many safeguards and high-standards his country has in place to protect the animals being shipped overseas for slaughter.Â He assured the public this sort of situation would never happen to Australian cows.
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