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CONTACT: ANDRIES VENTER – 011 907 3591/2/3

"LIVE EXPORT” Suffering Must Stop!

The cruel export of live animals by sea from South Africa for slaughter continues. Two "consignments” of animals recently departed for Mauritius on the Holstein Express. On 03 July 2473 cattle were on board when the vessel set sail from the port of East London. On 17 July, an estimated 2229 cattle were on board plus 743 sheep and goats. According to expert evidence in our possession, they will suffer during the trip. The manner of their deaths at the destination is questionable.

Personnel from the NSPCA's Farm Animal Protection Unit and the NSPCA Veterinarian monitored the handling and loading of the animals as well as the conditions on board the vessel before departure for both shipments.

For the first shipment, 17 trucks had transported cattle from as far as Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

The loading process was lengthy and flawed. Due to the structure of the ship's "races” and air ventilation system, the cattle became startled and either stopped in their tracks or turned back and ran, pushing back other cattle, causing bottlenecking and delays.

Numerous pens on board the ship did not have the water supply turned on. Water troughs were too small and inadequate. There were rusted troughs. Some pipes leaked. Pools of water had accumulated inside some pens, making it uncomfortable for the cattle to lie down. Overcrowding of the animals in pens was also noted, resulting in not all animals being able to lie down simultaneously.

Dangerously high ammonia level readings were obtained through a Draeger Ammonia Reader that was placed periodically on various decks. The reader's alarms sounded as the levels were recorded to be over 100 Parts per Million (ppm). Acceptable levels of ammonia is only 25ppm.

On this first shipment, incidents were witnessed of animals being kicked in their faces, excessive and/or unnecessary prodding and tail twisting by the personnel employed by the exporter – Page Farming Trust - as well as a SAPS officer. It took stockmen more than an hour to isolate a bull that had broken its horn. One bull had fallen due to slippery conditions. Its head was stuck beneath a steel bar. Other bulls were trampling over it. The NSPCA's consulting Veterinarian intervened and ensured that the animal was extricated but the attending personnel failed to isolate it timeously into a hospital pen for observation or possible treatment.

Further intervention took place when NSPCA Senior Inspectors found a bull lying in a pen with a heavy loose metal gate around its head. The animal was unable to move.

An incident occurred involving a bull bellowing on a truck being off-loaded. The animal was injured and unable to stand up and yet it was being forced from the truck onto the loading ramp despite the NSPCA's insistence that it not be moved as it appeared to have suffered a broken leg. Bruce Page, the exporter, requested emergency equipment from the NSPCA in order to humanely euthanase the bull; this after his lawyer claimed in Court that they had appropriate professional staff and equipment and did not need the NSPCA's presence.

Warnings in terms of the Animals Protection Act were issued.

The Holstein Express returned to East London two weeks later to be loaded with more animals destined for slaughter in Mauritius.

A warrant was obtained from the East London Magistrates Court on 15 July 2015 to enable NSPCA personnel to monitor the handling and loading of the animals as well as the conditions on board the vessel at the docks. The warrant proved necessary after the NSPCA personnel's access to the vessel was hindered. It was imperative that the entire loading process was monitored to ensure that warnings issued prior to the ship's docking had been adhered to and that the welfare of the animals was secured.

Many of the cattle had been transported by road from as far away as Vryburg in the Northern Cape. Loading of the cattle commenced after the animals had spent an estimated 22 hours on the road and at the docks. This contravened the stipulated 18-hour limit in the South African National Standard (SANS) 1488:2014 which was established to control and ensure the humane transportation of livestock by road.

The vessel docked in the afternoon of 15 July when pre-loading discussions took place with the Master of the vessel and a representative of Page Farming Trust. During these discussions it was confirmed to the NSPCA that the handling of the animals would be improved. Home-made devices had been brought to move the animals along as an alternative to the previous excessive prodding with battery-operated devices, kicking and forceful handling.

Vroon, the owners of the Holstein Express had made significant structural changes by adding non-slip flooring to the slipways, changing the rusted water bowls and improving the air ventilation system throughout the vessel. Despite these changes, the water reticulation system remained problematic on the decks. There were leaking pipes, the automated troughs was not working and there was overcrowding in pens. Drain covers in some pens had lifted off and were a hazard to the animals.

NSPCA personnel witnessed employees of the exporters dragging goats by the horns; - a contravention of the South African National Standard (SANS) 1469:2014 and a criminal offence in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962. Multiple incidences of inhumane handling were once again observed.

After the animals had spent a night on board the vessel, the NSPCA Veterinarian observed goats with nasal discharge. Swabs were obtained after the matter had been reported to the State Veterinarian, who agreed that further investigation was required. The Master of the vessel intervened and attempted to prevent NSPCA personnel from obtaining the necessary samples. He contacted the owner of the vessel – Vroon, in the Netherlands – and the NSPCA succeeded in obtaining samples only after both the Master of the vessel and Vroon were advised that criminal charges would be laid against them in the event that the continued to prevent the NSPCA from doing so. These samples have been submitted for laboratory testing.

This "consignment” of 2229 cattle and 743 Goats and Sheep departed on 17 July.

Contraventions in terms of the South African National Standards and the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 have resulted in warnings being issued to the exporters and ship owners. Criminal charges are being considered.

The NSPCA again calls for this inhumane practice to stop, advocating the export of meat rather than live animals. There is no protection and independent monitoring of the health and welfare of animals at sea.

Ship Owners – Vroon T+31 117 384910
Exporter – Bruce Allan Page and John Page, Page Farming Trust, Castledale Farms 082804 1738
Importer – Ahmed Seeraly, Socovia, Mauritius Office – 208 3966 Cell 729 1205
~ Ends ~
Date updated: 09/09/2015



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