Heat stress is a constant risk on live export ships. Animals suffering from heat stress literally cook from the inside out — they can suffer for days as their organs shut down one by one. Since 2004, 71 live shipments have had a death toll of 1,000 animals or more, including:
- In 2013 – more than 4,000 sheep suffered and died from heat stress on the Bader III
- In 2016 – more than 3,000 sheep suffered and died from heat stress on the Al Messilah
- In 2017 – 2,400 sheep suffered and died from heat stress on the Awassi Express
Footage captured by a brave crewman on board the Awassi Express revealed sheep caked in melted faeces and urine, severely decomposed bodies in pens with living sheep, sheep bogged in melted faces and unable to stand, and sheep suffering and dying from heat stroke.
The images made international headlines and sparked a political backlash in Australia – leading to multiple inquiries and a prohibition on exporting sheep from Australia into the Northern summer – effectively banning live sheep export for three months of the year.
Heat stress remains a very issue and concern on live export shipments during the shoulder months.