Sheep have died on the live animal export ship MV Bahijah, currently docked off Western Australia’s coast with over 16,000 animals onboard. Their deaths are under investigation.
The ship, carrying sheep and cows to Israel, departed Australia on January 5 but had to return due to security concerns in the Red Sea.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is still deliberating on the fate of the remaining animals, which have been confined on the ship behind metal bars, enduring temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
The Australian government is considering whether to unload all animals, which have now been on the boat for 30 days, or to send them back to Israel—a journey that would extend their time onboard by another 30 days.
Animal welfare organization RSPCA Australia has urged the government to protect the welfare of the animals on the MV Bahijah and to halt any potentially catastrophic plans for re-export.
The ship remains anchored near Fremantle port, keeping the animals out of public sight, with reportedly sick animals on board, according to the RSPCA.
Extreme stress on animals
“Live export is extremely stressful for animals. After 26 days at sea and counting, these Australian sheep and cattle are experiencing a prolonged, heightened state of stress,” stated Suzanne Fowler, Chief Science Officer at RSPCA Australia.
“They have already endured sustained heat and humidity, weeks of living in their own waste, crowding, an unfamiliar environment, and the volatile movement of the ship. Subjecting them to what could end up being a total of 60 plus days of this is inarguably unconscionable,” she added.
“The industry’s threat to re-export the animals is recklessly irresponsible and callous, prioritizing profits over the welfare of these animals, which is now in perilous danger,”
“We are gravely concerned about the proposal to re-export these animals. They have unequivocally already suffered enough,” Fowler emphasized.
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