Millions of animals are live exported on ships every year, especially cattle and sheep. They spend weeks travelling, often forced to remain standing the entire voyage; even if they could find the space, to attempt to lie down could mean being trampled or smothered. Most of the ships are open, which leaves animals exposed to intense cold, extreme heat, and being doused by sea water. Like us, they suffer from seasickness.
The animals defecate where they stand, leaving them covered in excrement. The ammonia smell makes it hard to breathe. Water can be scarce, and also be soiled by excrement.
Many suffer from injuries and disease. If babies are born during the voyage, they are often tossed overboard.
In 2017 around 2,500 Australian sheep died in the Middle East from heatstroke. In 2020, the Gulf Livestock I, carrying New Zealand cattle to China sank in a typhoon and approximately 5,800 cattle, and forty-one crew drowned.The countries the animals are exported to generally have little in the way of animal welfare laws, and their slaughterhouses are unregulated. Some animals are killed immediately on arrival, others are first used for breeding, and then killed.
Live export is one of the cruellest things we can do to sentient beings, and needs to stop.
by Monika Arya
One of the purest beings’ sucked dry sold for a price
Loaded on ferries, lorries or any means they find
Handed over to anyone who would buy
Travel for interminable times sometimes on bawling land, many times tormented waters
Always in infernal misery
Days dark as the darkest night
Narrow space between slats will not let in a shred of light
Soaked in shit, fuming foul tentacles seep into every pore
Open air of boundless seas refuse to absorb the exuding smells
It lingers forever on the trails streaming behind
From their own pee they take a desperate sip
Birth on the way, look at their babies with exhausted love
Knowing they were going to die and tossed overboard
Who wants to carry extra cargo that’s not going to fetch a price?
The buyer will do whatever they like
Cut, strip, hang them until they die
For you for you to sip your chai in your fancy cup
They were sucked dry for your warm joy
Forced to go on a journey from a living death to death
Stacked on meat and dairy shelves poured into cans, cartons and bottles
Wrapped in cellophane, stickers
Indicating best-before-date of expired mankind
Young dairy cow arriving at New Plymouth, New Zealand, to be exported to China. (Photo Credit, Elin Arbez, Taranaki Animal Save)
Trucks arriving at New Plymouth, New Zealand port to carry cattle to China, 2022 (Photo credit, Summer Aitken, Taranaki Animal Save)