The long hard road to ending live export and why we are determined to do it.

We know that this campaign can sometimes feel like two steps forward, one step back – but we're in this for the long haul, and we remain firmly committed to ending this trade for good, for the animals.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated August 31, 2020

In recent weeks, the live animal export trade has again been under the global spotlight, first for abandoning animals to abject cruelty, then for a human and animal disaster almost too painful to contemplate.

The world is still reeling from the heartbreaking news that an export ship carrying nearly 6,000 cattle had capsized en route from New Zealand to China, killing all animals and 41 crew members. This is the latest tragedy in a long line of devastating disasters that reveal an industry that is willing to put both people and animals at high risk in its pursuit of profit.

The disaster came just weeks after Animals Australia exposed yet more cruelty in Australia’s live export industry, with evidence gathered revealing widespread breaches of Australian regulations and sheep and cattle being subjected to cruelties that the industry has long promised had been wiped out.

Exporters were caught out failing to monitor their own animals, to follow even the most basic rules – leaving it up to Animals Australia, a charity, to instead police them. And once again they claimed to be ‘shocked’ and ‘disgusted’ when the world caught a glimpse of the suffering that is not just rife in their trade, but often simply considered to be the ‘cost of doing business.’ Safe to say, this routine is getting a little old.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

The live animal export trade has made global headlines once again, for all the wrong reasons.

For people who care about animals, it’s been a really difficult few weeks.

We know perhaps better than most, how devastating it is to be someone who cares about animals, and who has to put up with seeing the distressing images year after year after year. And we can’t stress enough how much we long for the day that those images won’t exist – the day animals are valued for who they are, not what their bodies produce. The day that live animal export is finally ended for good.

It is our unwavering belief that this day will come. And while we wish it could be tomorrow, we know we have a lot more to do yet. Because we have our work cut out for us. We are taking on a wealthy and powerful industry that has the steadfast support of the political party that currently governs Australia.

Despite years of outrage from the Australian people, and more recently global outrage that spanned 157 countries, it can feel disheartening to know that this trade continues (trust us, we get it). But it’s important to realise that a system that has been built on an acceptance of animal suffering — on decades of lawlessness and cruelty — is one that is not going to be gone overnight. It is one that needs to be dismantled, piece by piece. And we’re aiming to do just that.

Yes, live animal export continues for now. But we’re making it harder than ever. Here’s how we’re being the thorn in the side of the live export industry.

  • We achieved a ban on Northern Summer Shipments, meaning sheep can’t be exported during the three most dangerous months of the year – sparing 1 million animals from live export annually.
  • The majority of Germany’s counties (like states) have banned live export on animal welfare grounds, after our investigations through our global arm, Animals International, revealed the treatment of German animals exported from Europe.
  • For the first time ever, we exposed damning and extensive evidence during routine sheep voyages to the Middle East. This vision was broadcast globally – with major news stories appearing across the world.
  • This unforgettable vision led to a few other ‘firsts’:
    • For the first time ever, the majority of Australian MPs stated their opposition to the trade, a political tipping point;
    • The Australian Labor Party committed to phasing out live sheep exports – stating there is “no future in live sheep trade”. This is the first time we have had a live export policy from a major party; and,
    • The Australian Senate passed a bill to end live export.
  • A growing number of farmers in Austria are now turning their backs on live export as a result of evidence from Animals International’s investigations.
  • New laws to end or reduce live export are currently before the Romanian and Israeli governments.
  • We took the Department of Agriculture to the Federal Court and won – with the ruling made that the Department had no right to issue an export permit to notorious live export company, Emanuel Exports.
  • Major exporter, Emanuel Exports had their license to export cancelled after decades of animals suffering on their ships.
  • Live exporters tried to start up business from Namibia, but we worked with the local SPCA to support a rapid-fire media and education campaign resulting in the export company backing out, sparing 70,000 live sheep, 50,000 goats and 5,000 cattle from cruel export.
  • 5 million fewer sheep are being exported from Australia annually since our first investigations exposing the reality of this trade in 2003.

And our work to spare animals from one of the world’s most ruthless industries extends to animals across the globe. We have conducted major investigations in sixteen countries and used the evidence to build cases towards ending live export in France, Slovakia, Croatia, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Estonia, Belgium, Sweden, Colombia, Italy, Ukraine, Israel, South Africa, Uruguay, Brazil, Romania and the Czech Republic. Dozens of media stories throughout these countries have helped to grow the awareness and the public momentum that is needed to ultimately end this global trade in misery.

The global demand for meat that sees animals being treated like nothing more than cargo is going to need a global solution, and that’s why it’s so important that we support and work with our international colleagues in Austria (VGT, Four Paws), Chile (ProAnimal Chile), Czech Republic (CIWF, Spolecnost pro zvirata), Uruguay (Animales sin Hogar and The Save Movement), New Zealand (SAFE), Denmark (Dyrenes Beskyttelse), Finland (SEY), Brazil (Forum Animal), France (CIWF), Germany (Animal Welfare Foundation Tierschutzbund Z√ɬºrich, Deutscher Tierschutzbund), Italy (CIWF, LAV), Colombia (Councillor Andrea Padilla), Netherlands (Eyes on Animals, CIWF), Portugal (PATAV, Animal Save Movement), Romania (Animal Angels), Sweden (Djurens Ratt), Israel (Israel Against live Shipments and Animals Now), South Africa (NSPCA), Europe (Eurogroup for Animals) and the United Kingdom (CIWF).

And as exporters seek to create new markets and expand their cruel business in the constant pursuit of profits, it’s vital that we stay one step ahead. That’s why we’re building strong networks and supporting other compassionate organisations across the world to join the fight against this global trade in animal suffering. Through our global arm, Animals International, we have so far provided expert advice and support to a number of organisations – including GAIA (Belgium), Animal Friends Croatia, Animal Save Movement and Animals without Borders (Croatia), Loomus and N√ɬ§htamatud Loomad (Estonia), L 214, Welfarm and Foundation Brigitte Bardot (France), GAWF (Greece), ISPCA (Ireland), TustinNarvai (Lithuania), SOS Animal and Animal (Portugal), Sloboda Zvierat (Slovakia), Open Cages (Ukraine), and SPCA Windhoek (Namibia).

Live export isn’t going to end today, or next week. But while it continues, we remain determined to make it as difficult as possible, to save every animal possible, and to hold exporters to account at every possible opportunity.

To all those who care about animals, who are tired of seeing them abused at the hands of the live export industry – please know that we will continue to do everything in our power to keep dismantling a trade that should never have existed in the first place.

And to live exporters? We’re watching. All of us.