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The export of farmed animals by sea has been monitored and opposed by the NSPCA since the mid 1990s. This is one of the cruellest methods of transport in existence.

Farmed animals (cattle, sheep and goats) are bought in South Africa, trucked to the East London Harbour and loaded onto a ship bound for owners in the purchasing country, i.e. Mauritius. The loading process, which involves herding animals off the trucks onto the ship, can take up to 24hrs.

The animals are held below deck and face a journey of between 7 to 12 days, depending on the weather and sea conditions.

According to research, simple change in handling and crush / holding environment, including the loading, reloading and sudden change in environment from open air to restricted ventilation below deck on the ship, suggests the increases in stress and results in animal suffering. It was experienced that animals became ill and lethargic, sea sick and often end up with broken legs. – See Research (Animal Welfare 1994, 3: 213-218 {UFAW} by X Manatca and J. M. Deag)

The animals are then offloaded in Mauritius where inadequate loading/off-loading facilities exist and insufficient attention is given to general welfare and slaughter standards (i.e. animals are not stunned prior to throat cutting). The humane handling and slaughter of animals in South Africa is regulated but this is not the case in Mauritius. The meat sold in Mauritius is generally purchased by Halaal customers and the slaughter of animals is based on the requirements of the Islamic faith. However, unlike in South Africa, the welfare of animals in Mauritius is not always a priority.

NSPCA staff has monitored shipments over the past two decades, with the last shipment in September 2012 resulting in Court action between the NSPCA and the exporters in East London.

The NSPCA has now openly stated that criminal charges will be laid against any veterinarian, whether state appointed or not, who signs the export permits. The NSPCA’s stance on this issue has been relayed in several written communications as well as in meeting discussions with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

As an animal welfare organisation the National Council of SPCAs believes that animals should be treated humanely while they are on the farm, while they are transported and when they are slaughtered. All animals are deserving of consideration, even those being raised for food.

United Ulama Council of South Africa;
Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee
Compassion in World Farming International
Animals Australia
South African Veterinary Council appointed Veterinarian

For further explanation regarding the following concerns please go to


a) Physical Restraint and handling
b) Noise – Loading, Journey, off-loading.
c) Vibration – of vessel and ocean.
d) Social regrouping – Establishing the pecking order, disease transmission, bullying, mounting.
e) Unfamiliar surroundings – Animals not familiar with artificial conditions.

a) Hunger / Thirst
b) Injury (bruising, lacerations, broken bones)
c) Thermal extremes (heat, cold, humidity)
d) Mounting
e) Overcrowding
f) Flooring
g) Ventilation / Temperatures
h) Sea sickness
i) Laminitis and lameness

• Lack of ability to provide veterinarian support and care on vessels
• Lack of emergency slaughter protocols
• Downer animals and trampling
• Offloading and other animal welfare concerns of animals in country of destination

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