A horrific video shown to members of the Australian live-export industry and legislators last week has resulted in live cattle exports to Egypt being suspended, according to a May 7 report by the Herald Sun.
The disturbing film, which was allegedly shot in October of last year inside an Egyptian abattoir (slaughterhouse), was broadcast by ABC on public television on Friday, the report states.
It shows a bull, allegedly transported from Australia to an Egyptian abattoir, being stabbed multiple times and its tendons slashed and eyes stabbed in an attempt to kill it after the animal escaped from a slaughter box, breaking its leg in the process. The purchaser is impatient and in a hurry for the animal to die. It finally collapses in a pool of its own blood.
In another instance, the restraint boxes failed to work properly and one animal was filmed walking around the abattoir with a gaping neck wound after its throat was cut.
Australian and Egyptian regulators have immediately launched an investigation into this latest evidence of horribly inhumane treatment and brutal killing of terrified cattle, as the result of urging by animal advocates for tougher action after an earlier Indonesian live-exports controversy.
Following evidence of animal cruelty on June 8, 2011, the Australian Government temporarily suspended the export of all livestock to Indonesia until new procedures promising safeguards to animal welfare were established.
An Industry Government Working Group developed a regulatory framework for livestock exports to Indonesia for the purpose of slaughter in which the Australian exporter “must supply evidence of an acceptable Exporter Supply Chain Assurance system (ESCAS)” before being issued approval to export .(Overview of the ESCAS Process)
Joining calls from the Greens for a total end to live-transport trade, Tasmanian Independent Member of Parliament Andrew Wilkie said this latest case must trigger an end to transporting live animals out of Australia for the purpose of slaughter, and he vowed to introduce such a motion in parliament next week.
"The latest shocking revelation of cruelty to Australian animals--this time in Egypt--surely must sound the death knell for Australia's live animal export industry," Mr. Wilkie said.
Advocacy group Animals Australia Campaign Director Lyn White said: "The question must be asked, if the Australian government and live export industry consider cutting the leg tendons of conscious animals to be appalling enough to stop trade, why then are they not equally appalled by the fact that exported animals routinely have their throats cut while fully conscious?"
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig defended the system, saying 99.9 per cent of live export animals were not abused. However, he struggled to explain where the figure came from, the Herald Sun reported. He initially said it related to complaint numbers but then said it was reflective of his confidence. "We are investigating," he said.
The live-transport industry has unveiled reform proposals including asking the government to absorb Egyptian trade into the unified Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System, in what is considered a “pre-emptive strike against critics.”
This would mean Australian animals remain the responsibility of the Australian exporter, even after shipment and ownership changes hands at foreign ports.
Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold said it shared the concerns of all Australians and wanted to improve animal welfare. “The industry is also committed to provide additional training and staff in the Egypt facilities and ensure only qualified staff undertakes slaughters,” he assured. This would include that only trained handlers or veterinarians undertake emergency slaughter of injured livestock.
National senate leader Barnaby Joyce is scheduled to attend a beef cattle forum with cattle producers on Tuesday, according to the report.
Advocates will continue to press for major reforms in humane treatment in the live-export trade, with the hope of arousing public outrage and demand for a total reformation of this practice. The cruelty to the animals involved in the shipping process alone should warrant a total ban.