The SPCA is opposed to all forms of transportation which compromise the well-being of all animals or which causes or may cause pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.

Animals are transported by various means, however, transportation of live animals by sea, in particular livestock intended for slaughter holds serious animal well-being concerns. It is unnecessary to transport animals intended for slaughter by sea, especially if viable and humane alternatives exist close to the point of production. This method of trade causes pain, suffering and distress to many animals, including high mortality rates occurring during the voyage.

The SPCA advocates that the animals should be transported in carcass form.

The National Council of SPCAs remains steadfast in our statement of policy relating to live export of animals by sea and maintain that no country has the capacity or capability to ensure or guarantee animal welfare on livestock vessels. Our short-term objective is to ban the live export of animals by sea from South Africa across the equator.

Export of live animals by sea is nothing new:

Since 2019, the National Council of SPCAs has focused on live animal exports to the Middle East and north of the Equator, but South Africa’s live exports to Mauritius date back nearly three decades. Despite opposition and appeals to the government, live exports persist. Initial ships were rudimentary, offering little protection to animals. NSPCA monitoring revealed welfare issues such as animals slipping off trucks, inadequate handling, and lack of provisions on these vessels. Although cruelty within South Africa has reduced over time, NSPCA inspectors are now barred from accompanying shipments to Mauritius, yet firsthand reports reveal harsh conditions , including extensive faecal waste. Throughout, NSPCA has taken on the welfare responsibility neglected by the government and supports a complete live export ban for South Africa.

High Court upholds NSPCA’s mandate in respect of all animals bound for the Middle East

The Makhanda High Court recently affirmed the NSPCA’s mandate, as endorsed by the Constitutional Court and in terms of its warrant, to examine all animals and the conditions under which they are held, at the Al Mawashi feedlot. This vital decision comes after Al Mawashi attempted to challenge the NSPCA’s powers to remove compromised animals from being loaded onto the Al Messilah in March 2024. The evidence put forth by the NSPCA about the horrendous manner in which the animals are handled, was accepted by the Court.

This is the reality of the export of live animals by sea:

Animal well-being concerns with regards to the transportation of live animals by sea include but are not limited to:

  • The conditions on the vessels are totally unnatural and do not provide for a suitable environment for the intended cargo of animals;

  • Animals have to endure extended periods in inadequate and/or unnaturally small spaces including within the confinement of transport crates;

  • Excessive lighting exposure resulting in lack of rest;

  • Animals are subjected to unhygienic husbandry conditions during the voyage such as the build-up of faecal matter and urine; build-up of noxious gases such as ammonia; faulty or broken ventilation systems may result in animals suffering from heat stress or exposure to high levels of noxious gases such as ammonia;

  • Due to the movement of the vessel, the animals may become injured or experience motion sickness;

  • Unsuitable non-slip flooring may cause the animals to slip and become injured;

  • Animals are at risk of being trampled by their companions;

  • Water provision and suitable food for the animals may be compromised during the voyage;

  • Provision of food and water is not necessarily accessible to every animal;

  • Animals are forced to endure close proximity to humans for extended periods of time;

  • Animals are transported without being accompanied by a veterinarian or experienced, trained and competent staff, resulting in a lack of provision of emergency treatment or euthanasia of animals where necessary;

  • There is a lack of adequate treatment or quarantine sections on ships; and

  • The offloading of animals is not necessarily monitored by any welfare organisation at the intended destination.

Your continued support of the NSPCA Farm Animal Protection Unit will assist us in our objectives to end this cruel and antiquated mode of animal transportation

Read more about the legal battle with Al Mawashi.

Many of the animals onboard live export vessels do not survive the journey by sea, and those that do survive are subjected to cruel living conditions for the duration of the trip. The inhumanity displayed in the practice of the exporting of live animals by sea is often marked by disease, overheating, overcrowding, dehydration, starvation, physical trauma and people who don’t care about the welfare of animals. Such conditions, are for any sentient being, unliveable.

The NSPCA does not condone live export. However, until we have achieved a complete ban, like other countries such New Zealand, the NSPCA will continue to monitor live export processes in an attempt to protect as many animals from suffering as possible. With every shipment, the NSPCA assembles a team and allocates resources to intervene and conduct inspections at the feedlot and harbour. Our Inspectors ensure that any sick, injured, or compromised animals are not loaded onto these ships.

While confronting and working towards the prohibition of this barbaric trade, we ask for your support.

Your donation will directly benefit animal welfare, as any financial contributions will be used to assist our team in carrying out their duties throughout this battle.

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Account Name: SPCA National Council of SA
Bank: Standard Bank
Account No.: 220 639 744
Branch Code: 051 001
Swift code for international EFTs: SBZAZAJJ

Reference: Name/Company name (optional)/LIVE EXPORT
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