On Wednesday 29 July 2020, at Kennedy Quay, Port of Cork, around 2,000 young bulls were loaded onto livestock vessel Sarah M bound for Libya. They will arrive at Misrata port on 8th August.
A group of around 20 EFI supporters went to the dock to witness the loading and protest against the shipment that was organised by Cork based company Curzon Livestock.
The loading was chaotic with bulls slipping and stumbling on the ramp, backing down the ramp and gangway, mounting each other, which is a sign of stress, and trying to get back into the trucks. It was raining heavily and the handlers were rough and disorganised.
The animals didn’t know what they were meant to do, people were coming at them from all sides with paddles and sticks, sometimes actually blocking the pathway the animals were meant to go down, and one handler was seen on several occasions bending the tail of a bull up over it’s back pulling it to try to make him move.
This can be very painful and can actually break the tail. The animals were stressed and confused and at least one of them was lame. Add the pouring rain, high humidity and cramped conditions in the pens and you have the perfect environment for pneumonia.
It was the worst loading I have witnessed which is ironic given that under the Programme for Government it states that ‘recognising the importance of animal welfare, the new Government will provide additional resources to monitor welfare standards, by increasing the veterinary presence available on all live export consignments to third countries.’
Where were these vets when these breaches were carried out? I didn’t see any vets at all. I assume they were in the trailer sheltering from the rain. Perhaps they should have been paying more attention to what was going on. Did any vets travel with the shipment? I doubt it, they would not travel to Libya, we are advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs not to as it is too dangerous.
The animals are now half way through the journey to Libya, a war torn country with no effective government in place. The pens are covered in a light scattering of sawdust and by now will be completely soiled and slippery. It is common for animals to slip and break limbs and have to be euthanized. Ammonia levels will be high and will add to the humidity causing respiratory problems that can lead to pneumonia. This is the most common cause of death during sea journeys.
Once the vessel arrives in Misrata the cattle will be unloaded and put in trucks to continue the journey. It will be around 40 degrees, plus there is a risk of missile fire and landmines to contend with. The cattle will go to a feedlot somewhere before facing a brutal slaughter. There is little in the way of animal welfare legislation and no government to enforce it anyway. Facilities at the abattoirs are poor, there is a lack of education and awareness around animal sentience and the workers seem to be scared of dealing with such large animals.
I have put together a couple of videos on Youtube of the loading and the protest:
I have also sent an official letter of complaint to the Authorities regarding the handling of the animals during the loading.
Please visit the Take Action page to see what you can do to help. These animals need us to speak out for them.