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Live Export Australia

Seven million live animals are exported from Australia each year to the Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Mexico. Sheep, cows, pigs, goats, camels and deer all face weeks at sea. Conditions on board are notoriously bad and totally inappropriate for live animals – some of the vessels are just converted car carriers! Up to 140,000 animals may be transported in one vessel. The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture has admitted that approximately 100,000 sheep die on these ships each year, but this figure is almost certainly understated.

Those that do not die suffer horribly. Often, during the overland journey across Australia to their port of departure (which can mean up to four days in a truck), animals suffer broken limbs and other injuries, but, despite rules to the contrary, are loaded onto the ships. And of course, during the voyage itself, animals undergo week after week of pain and fear – all too frequently, animals that begin their voyage in perfect health reach their slaughter destination starving, thirsty, injured and blind.

Naturewatch supporters in the UK got involved by helping to raise public awareness of this cruel trade, collecting petition signatures, distributing leaflets, postcards and writing to the Australian High Commission in London to emphasise the fact that this cruel trade is damaging Australia’s reputation as a civilised country and attending our demonstration in London. We produced a template protest letter that was sent out with a campaign mailing and it was also available on our website.

To mark the first unhappy anniversary of the Cormo Express leaving Fremantle with its cargo of 57,000 sheep (doomed to float around the waters of the Middle East for 80 days!), simultaneous demonstrations were held in Perth and in London.

A Naturewatch delegation handed over a petition of some 57,000 signatures – one for each of the Cormo sheep – to the Deputy High Commissioner, Mr Bill Tweddell. The petitions were presented in gift-wrapped boxes with a label bearing the words...

‘Unhappy birthday!
6 August 2003 – 57,000 sheep board the Cormo Express ship of death.
6 August 2004 – 57,000 people say BAN THE AUSTRALIAN LIVE EXPORT TRADE.’

Mr Tweddell and his colleagues were courteous, but curiously ill-informed about their country’s live export trade. This was surprising, since Mr Tweddell had met with representatives of PACAT and Compassion in World Farming only last October to discuss the issues. Moreover, we had been told that over 10,000 letters of protest from Naturewatch supporters had been received at the High Commission, all of which had to be forwarded to the Australian Government in Canberra! But we were promised that the petition signatures would be passed on likewise. So the Australian Government can be in no doubt as to how its reputation is being damaged internationally by its continued acceptance of the atrocities being inflicted on millions of Australian animals each year.

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