The sinking of 15,000 sheep in Sudan highlights the violations against livestock ships

They slowly died from drowning. The ship, carrying 15,000 sheep, took hours to sink in the Sudanese port of Suakin on Sunday. Presumably due to overloading: Badri 1 was only designed for 9,000 sheep.

The Badri 1, built in 1973, was originally a cargo ship. A number of floors were added to transport animals on them. Since the sheep were locked up in different compartments of the ship, it was difficult to save them despite the slow sinking. Pictures show how men in lifeboats sail into the capsized ship to bring groups of sheep to safety. Thus seven hundred sheep were taken from the ship, but they were in poor condition.

Sheep rescued from the wrecked ship Badri 1.
Photo by AFP

The destination of the drowned sheep was Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. This is a common route: in 2017, only one country imported more live animals than Saudi Arabia, and Sudan is the largest exporter of sheep in the world, with an estimated 3.7 million animals in 2017.

When animals are transported by sea, there are several of them at the same time, and if things go wrong, many animals die instantly. Three years ago, for example, about fifteen thousand sheep sank near the Roman port of Constanta.

The transport of 70,000 sacrificial sheep from Romania to Kuwait previously led to protests as the animals in the Persian Gulf were exposed to temperatures of up to 46 degrees. During these transfers, animals regularly die on board, after which crew members dump the remains at sea. Tourists have already seen the carcasses of sheep washed ashore in the Egyptian seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

And last year there was the case of the Al-Bik ship, which drifted aimlessly for three months with eight hundred cows in the Mediterranean because buyers feared the animals had a blue tongue. After the ship finally returned to Spain, the animals were in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. That same year, nine hundred cows were killed on Mount Karimullah after they had swayed for sixty days, after the animals were rejected for fear of blue tongue in Turkey and Libya, among other places.

halal slaughter

from search by Watchman It shows that the transport of live animals has quadrupled in the last 50 years due to the increased demand for meat. Islamic countries in particular have a preference for live animals: in this way they can ensure that the slaughter of animals is halal.

Tourists watched the carcass of sheep washing on the beach in Sharm El Sheikh

On the list of the largest exporters of live animals – sea and land – Sudan is among the western countries. The Netherlands ranks first, with 350 million chickens and 12 million pigs in 2017. In 2019, 1.8 billion chickens, pigs, sheep, goats and cows were transported worldwide, three-quarters of which came from the European Union. The value of the transport of live livestock is estimated at 19 billion euros.

In the meantime, few measures are taken against the suffering of animals during transportation. For example, British Minister George Eustice (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced in 2020 that England and Wales would ban the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter. An exception applies only to chicken. The new rules are still under discussion with stakeholders before they can go into effect.

Read also: Concern for pigs due to risk of ‘heat stress’

The European Union introduced relatively stringent requirements for animal welfare in 2005. But then, MEP Jørn Dohrmann of Denmark noted in a 2018 report that many animals are handled harshly, transported in unsuitable vehicles, packed close to each other, and exposed For high temperatures, very little food and water are given.

The European Commission has announced new legislation for next year. MEP Anja Hazekamp (Animal Party) hopes to introduce stricter rules or even ban the export of live animals to countries outside the European Union. But according to her, it will already be possible to make a difference if the existing rules are complied with.

Animals are often improperly transported, for example sheep with only drinking water suitable for pigs. I personally witnessed serious violations of care, such as starvation and abuse of animals. But the examination is short.”

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