Media Centre


Tonight ABC’s Four Corners focuses once again on the terrible risks of the live export trade to Australian livestock.  The in-depth investigation describes the ordeal of 21,000 Australian sheep that left Australian shores in August 2012, only to be rejected by Bahrain and then brutally culled in Pakistan.

This recent debacle is yet another chapter in a long history of shipments of live sheep being rejected and is a clear sign that this trade isn’t worth the risk.    

“These animals were originally destined for Bahrain, part of the Middle East trade that has been fraught with problems in the past – live export issues in the region date back to the 1980s,” said RSPCA Australia CEO, Heather Neil.

“Many will remember the tortuous voyage of the Cormo Express in 2003 that began with the rejection of 57,000 sheep by Saudi Arabia.  A shocking 6,000 sheep died on board while the vessel floated around the Persian Gulf for 2 months before finally offloading the remaining sheep in Eritrea. 

“The Cormo Express incident led to the development of written agreements (MOUs) with importing countries and a requirement for contingency plans in the case of future import disagreements.

“Over recent months two shipments were rejected from Bahrain, cattle were transferred from one ship to another in the middle of the Red Sea and cattle were held in a feedlot in Egypt for an extended period while their health status was reviewed.

“Despite the implementation of two different systems meant to protect further shipments of live animals to this area, these measures have failed to protect Australian animals.

 “This is proof that no scheme or agreements can fully safeguard the welfare of animals exported live for slaughter. No matter how much industry or Government involvement there is, the live export of animals for slaughter presents an unacceptable level of risk for the animals and is inherently cruel.

“The many, many incidences that have plagued this trade are proof that humane live export of animals just isn’t possible.

“Live export is a senseless trade – from both an animal welfare and economic perspective – and planning for a future without it is in the best interests of Australian animals and a sustainable livestock industry in this country.”

See more examples of live export disasters at sea.