EC judge give sheep ship go-ahead

An Eastern Cape High Court judge this week condemned 56 000 sheep to certain death by granting an order that they may be loaded aboard a 40-year-old livestock carrier, the Al Messilah, for shipment from East London to the Middle East.

For, many ~ up to 20% of the total, based on international live animal transportation experienced generally ~ will die on the two week voyage, many of heat stress and thirst, while the balance, upon unloading, face being killed by ritual slaughter.

In handing down his judgement this week acting judge Nceba Dukada ordered that the loading and shipment of the cargo must be strictly monitored by SA government representatives in the form of officials from the Dept of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development, to ensure that health and anti-cruelty protocols are adhered to. And, he reduced the number of animals allowed, down from the proposed 70 000 that Al Mawashi earlier wished to cram aboard to the ship, to 56 000.

Reasons for his judgement were not given, with Judge Dukada promising to provide these before 15 September.

The sheep have been awaiting loading at Al Mawashi’s feedlot at Berlin, Eastern Cape as their earlier shipment was delayed by an urgent interdict granted to the NSPCA.

This concludes, for now, a protracted legal battle between the NSPCA and the Al Messilah’s owners, Middle Eastern livestock trading and transport company Al Mawashi, with the NSPCA and other animal rights groups seeking to prevent live animal transportation by sea, particularly across the equator where temperatures below deck aboard such ships routinely exceed 50degC, and particularly, also, from the southern hemisphere in winter into the Persian Gulf in its summer months, where temperatures, likewise are intolerably high aboard ship.

While the NSPCA, which will send its own officials to monitor the loading, says it is disappointed by the judgement, it points out that this judgement is only a setback in its much wider legal bid to have all live animal shipments anywhere north of the equator. This case is expected to be heard within the next twelve months.

Photo credit: Anthony Legg. Fremantle, Australia.

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