The Horrific Conditions and Stench: The Dark Reality of Livestock Exportation Revealed

Residents of Cape Town woke up to a pungent, sewage-like smell engulfing their neighborhoods on Monday morning. The source? A ship from Brazil carrying 19,000 cattle had anchored in the South African port city the night before, in order to reload on animal feed.

After performing an assessment on board the ship named Al Kuwait, staff from a leading animal welfare organization, the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), reported that the cattle had been on board for two-and-a-half weeks and were living in a “build-up of faeces and ammonia [a gas released from urine]”. The conditions were described as “awful” and the stench as “unimaginable”.

This incident highlights the cruel and inhumane treatment of farm animals during their journey to be slaughtered and consumed in other countries. Animal rights organizations have long complained about the hazardous conditions on these ships. Overcrowding can lead to trampling and other injuries, and there are risks of dehydration, disease, and hunger.

Despite the horrific events that occasionally make headlines, it is the day-to-day suffering of exported livestock that is the real concern. Peter Stevenson from global animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) explains that millions of farm animals endure lengthy journeys, such as the one experienced by the 19,000 cattle in Cape Town. In 2022 alone, Brazil exported 150,000 live cattle, according to CIWF estimates.

Live animal exports are not limited to Brazil. Australia and the European Union (EU) are also major exporters of livestock. The EU sells around 4.5 million live farm animals to foreign countries, and Australia’s livestock exporters argue that shipping animals contributes to food security in water-st

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