Live Export

Animals Australia airs fresh cattle cruelty allegations

Beef Central, 08/11/2013

An image from a video released by Animals AustraliaAnimals Australia has publicly released fresh footage showing bulls that it claims to be Australian being dragged and pushed off trucks and violently restrained and slaughtered on the island of Mauritius.

Animals Australia claims the footage was filmed by one of its undercover inspectors in the Mauritian capital of Port Louis during the island’s Eid Festival of Sacrifice between October 14 and 16.

The Australian Live Exporters Council says the footage shows unacceptable treatment to the cattle involved, but the trade is now waiting on a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry investigation to confirm whether the cattle are of Australian origin and whether the Australia’s Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System has been breached.

Animals Australia says its inspectors gathered “damming evidence” of Australian cattle being openly loaded onto trucks and transported out of the importer's approved feedlot for private and backyard slaughter, in direct contravention of Australian live export regulations.

"The cruelty endured by Australian bulls in Mauritius is horrendous. Those responsible clearly believe this is acceptable. The only way that this will not be repeated is fear of consequences – whether loss of export license by exporters – or the associated loss of the supply of animals for importers,” Animal Australia Legal Counsel Shatha Hamade said in a statement released last night.

Some of the cattle filmed in the 3:30 minute video have round RFID-type tags in their offside ears, but it appears unclear from the video provided whether they are NLIS tags from Australia.

Mauritius receives imports of bos Taurus and bos Indicus cattle from a range of countries, including South Africa and Kenya.

The most recent live export shipment data available shows that between January 1 and August 31 Australia delivered one shipment of 2000 cattle to Mauritius, which were shipped in August.

In an official statement, WA based International Livestock Exports, which exports cattle to Mauritius, said its importer in the country maintains that all the cattle it has received from Australia have been processed through its ESCAS accredited supply chain. ESCAS requires the continuous, round the clock traceability of all Australian cattle through to the point of slaugther.

“ILE maintains constant close scrutiny of its traceability records under the ESCAS and there has to date been no evidence of any leakage from ILE's supply chain in Mauritius,” ILE managing direct Mike Stanton said.

Mr Stanton said that thorough initial investigations have been undertaken and ILE has been assured by its Mauritian importer that:

  • there has been no leakage from ILE's Mauritian supply chain; and
  • all ILE cattle have been delivered to the proper abattoir in Mauritius and have been dealt with in ?accordance with the ESCAS (See full ILE statement reprinted below this article)

Mr Stanton said that at the time of releasing ILE’s official statement yesterday, it had still had not been shown the footage by Animals Australia. The animal rights group released the footage onto its website and to media last night.

Animals Australia said its investigators also documented the cruel treatment of cattle from South Africa and has provided this evidence to the NSPCA (National Council of Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) to assist their ongoing efforts in lobbying for an end to live export from South Africa.

Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief executive Alison Penfold said it was important the investigation now be allowed to run its course.

"The footage shows unacceptable treatment to tany animal, regardless  of where they're from," she said.

“We’re not in a position to say whether they are Australian cattle or not, but that is why this investigation process and the veracity around whether they are Australian cattle is so important, because there are cattle coming into Mauritius from other countries.

“We’re not backing away – if there has been a leak the exporter is very clear they will take action – but we need to undertake this investigation.

“What concerns me is that from what I understand is that the importer is very cognizant of their responsibilities to deliver ESCAS, and the Mauritian Government had also put on the import permit that there is to be no home slaughter of cattle.

“So they further supported ESCAS with their own requirement.”

Animals Australia has also seized on media reporting this week suggesting that Australia’s live export industry is planning to take regulatory control of welfare standards back from Government through the development of its own quality assurance program.

“It is unbelievable that at a time when a major exporter's complete disregard for regulatory requirements in Jordan resulted in terrible cruelty to thousands of animals – that a suggestion that this is an industry capable of self-regulating is put back on the table,” Shatha Hamade said in Animals Australia’s media release.

"During the past month the Department of Agriculture has been provided with extensive evidence showing Australian animals being subjected to shocking cruelty in Jordan and Mauritius – cruelty that would not have occurred had Australian laws been adhered to.

“It is clear that without strong regulatory sanctions exporters will not take their legal responsibility seriously.”

“The Abbott government has made their support of live export abundantly clear but if Minister Joyce does nothing else, he should sit exporters down and read them the riot act – and remind them that no government can support an industry if they breach regulations and act as if they are above the law.”

However claims that the live export industry is some how seeking to dilute or weaken existing levels of oversight and control over welfare have been slammed as misleading by the Australian Livestock Exporters Council.

“It is not what our QA project is about at all,” Alison Penfold said.

“There is this view that ESCAS is the be all and end all, but even the Farmer Report noted that a through-chain QA system should be looked at by industry as a means of providing assurance along the supply chain.

“It is not going to be a self-regulating system and we have never been self-regulated, that is a misnomer anyway.”

 

ILE released the following statement last night:

Licensed Australian livestock exporter, International Livestock Export (ILE) is aware of alleged footage claiming to show the mistreatment of Australian cattle during the Eid Al Adha festival in Mauritius. As an exporter of cattle to Mauritius, ILE is deeply concerned by the mistreatment of livestock shown, the Managing Director of ILE, Mike Stanton said today.
“ILE regards the good handling and slaughter of cattle as a core part of our export business and we take our obligations to meet our Export Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) obligations very seriously. We have provided special training programs in animal handling and slaughter with our customers and their staff in Mauritius and regularly reinforce with them the need to be vigilant around the delivery of deliver good animal welfare including mitigation of the risk of leakage,” Mr Stanton said.
“It is difficult for ILE to comment on the veracity of the footage and the complaint lodged with the Department of Agriculture at this time as we are yet to gain access to the footage.
“At the time that ILE became aware of the alleged footage in mid October, it proactively advised the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) that it was aware of the existence of the allegations and had immediately begun an investigation into those allegations.
“ILE maintains constant close scrutiny of its traceability records under the ESCAS and there has to date been no evidence of any leakage from ILE's supply chain in Mauritius.”
Mr Stanton said that thorough initial investigations have been undertaken and ILE has been assured by its Mauritian importer that:
  • there has been no leakage from ILE's Mauritian supply chain; and
  • all ILE cattle have been delivered to the proper abattoir in Mauritius and have been dealt with in ?accordance with the ESCAS. ?“Once the company has viewed the footage it will continue with its investigation into the allegations and if it finds any truth whatsoever to the allegations, serious consequences will flow to the Mauritian importer. ?“ILE is fully supporting DAFF's investigation into the alleged footage which must ascertain a number of matters, including whether the footage shows Australian cattle, given that Mauritius imports cattle from a number of other countries. ?“If any evidence suggests a possible connection between ILE and the alleged footage, in addition to conducting its own investigation, ILE will continue to cooperate fully with DAFF to ensure the continued integrity of the ESCAS”, Mr Stanton said. 

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