The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) is horrified at the impending arrival of the Al Messilah vessel which is owned by the Kuwaiti company, Al Mawashi, and is set to dock at the East London Harbour next week to load a ‘consignment’ of approximately 70 000 sheep destined for the Middle East. The NSPCA has obtained warrants for the feedlot and the harbour and ship and is sending a team to East London to monitor the loading and intervene when the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 is contravened.

Al Mawashi, with the Page Farming Trust, exported approximately 57 000 sheep in October 2019 using the controversial Al Shuwaikh vessel. It is reported that the Al Messilah vessel is an equally contentious vessel that boasts mass deaths and suffering in its long history of live animal export. Mechanical breakdowns while at sea, and detainments at ports have been reported about this specific ship.

“We are flabbergasted that Al Mawashi would send a ship with a similarly bad reputation to the Al Shuwaikh, essentially another rust bucket, to South Africa after the 2019 export outrage” said Marcelle Meredith, the Executive Director of the NSPCA

Unlike the Al Shuwaikh vessel, the Al Messilah is completely enclosed – a metal box in essence, seemingly making it the perfect vessel to conduct a large amount of heat. It is reported that this heat mixed with 70 000 living and breathing animals is a perfect storm for heat exhaustion. Reportedly, this ship is notorious for lack of adequate space for sheep to be able to lie down or have adequate access to the feed and water troughs, even when “loosely” stocked.

Heat is not the only concern relating to this brutal practice. Animals are further compromised to the extent of, but not limited to:

  1. Lack of appetite leading to exhaustion;
  2. Salmonellosis
  3. High stocking density, which leads not only to physical discomfort and an inability to rest, but also to food and water restrictions;
  4. Pneumonia from multifactorial causes;
  5. Motion sickness;
  6. Change in lighting period and photoperiod resulting in stress and an impaired immune system;
  7. Physical trauma and injuries (trampling and injuries caused by rough seas);
  8. Exposure to noxious gases;
  9. Eye infections.

These concerns are well attested to in both literature and official documents.

Reportedly, more than 100 000 litres of urine and faeces accumulate on a typical live export ship every day sheep are on board and the ship won’t be ‘washed out’ until after they’ve disembarked. It is alleged that the weeks of untreated waste build-up mixed with high temperatures will create a lethal slurry of excrement making it dangerous for animals to lie down as they risk being buried alive. The ammonia from the excrement poisons the air, burns the eyes and throats of those on board, and often leads to respiratory infections.

The NSPCA attempted to engage with Al Mawashi in the best interests of these 70 000 sheep but could not reach an agreement – a basic request by the NSPCA was that their Veterinarian travel with the sheep to the Middle East and this was declined by Al Mawashi, this begs the question; what do they have to hide? This has left the NSPCA no option but to obtain warrants to ensure our Inspectors’ have access to the animals.

“Although the outcome in the High Court in February was unfavourable, we will not give up on these sheep. We will do our utmost to ensure that they are at least treated humanely while in our jurisdiction, while collecting evidence for further criminal charges and High Court action – we know that our supporters feel let down by the result of our High Court action, we feel the same way, we only hope that this will not deter our followers from continuing their support and trusting in the fact that we will not give up until we are finally triumphant in our mission – to end live export by sea” said Marcelle Meredith.

We appeal to caring citizens to assist the NSPCA financially – our work is far from over and we are the only organisation on the frontline of this war, trying to protect these animals. We know that there is a strong possibility that our warrants will be contested by the opposition and this will lead to further legal costs, and the costs incurred from our team monitoring the loading are exorbitant. Let us stand together against this abhorrent suffering.

Account Name: SPCA National Council of SA

Bank: Standard Bank

Account No.: 220 639 744

Branch Code: 051 001

Reference: Sheep

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