Ireland sends 2000 young bulls to war zone Libya, breaking animal welfare regulations

“Libya is a war zone. There are missile attacks. There are landmines. It’s just absolutely absurd that we are sending animals there,” Caroline Rowley, founder of Ethical Farming Ireland, says about the ship with 2000 bulls that left from Ireland to Libya on Wednesday.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland advises people not to go to Libya, yet we send our animals there, she shares with The Animal Reader. This is the fourth time this year Ireland has sent live animals to Libya.

Sending bulls on this journey to Libya is breaching several EU regulations and the Irish Animal Health and Welfare Act because the trip will cause illness, injuries and suffering to the animals, Rowley says. “Last year, an average of 5 animals died per shipment. Animals do die, they do suffer, which is a total breach of regulations.”

“You can imagine 2000 bulls (on a ship), after a very short time, the pens will become soiled and are not cleaned out. Ammonia levels are high, which will cause respiratory illness. And also, it’s very slippery, so the animals will slip and hurt themselves,” she says about the gruesome 9-day journey on a vessel built in 1979 that used to be a pallet ship.

“Once they are unloaded, that’s the end of the paper trail. The authorities have no idea what happens to these animals. The regulations state that they should be protected up until the final destination and the final destination is wherever they spend 48 hours or more. But once they are unloaded off the vessel, that’s the end of it,” she continues.

Rowley worries about the severe problems that these animals will face in Libya. Ireland is a relatively cool place and the animals will be unloaded into 40 degrees heat in Libya into open trucks and will be transported for days at once. 

“There’s no government in place. There’s very little animal welfare legislation anyway. Still, what is there, is not enforced because there’s no effective government that is caring for these animals,” she says about animal welfare in Libya.

On paper, the Irish government ticks all the boxes before the animals are loaded onto the vessel like creating pens for the cattle, ventilating it properly, and checking for adequate food and water. They leave healthy, but after nine days on a ship, a very unnatural experience for bulls, some animals are dead and some are injured or ill.

Ethical Farming Ireland has been working to provide better lives to these animals. She says that in a perfect world situation, there will be no animal killing, but since the world that we live in isn’t perfect, we should at least try to make it less painful for the animals.

These animals will be slaughtered in Libya anyways, so why not slaughter them in Ireland and then send them, she states. Unfortunately, Rowley has had very little aid in her mission from both Ireland and Libyan governments.

But she sees some hope in a Committee of Inquiry that was set up since many NGOs in Europe came together and raised concerns over the transport of live animals.

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