The 15,500 animals, confined on a ship for 35 days, will be offloaded from the live animal export vessel MV Bahijah.
On January 5, the ship left Australia for Israel, carrying around 14,000 sheep and 1,500 cows. It was forced to return due to security concerns in the Red Sea. Some sheep died on the ship.
For the past week, the ship has been anchored off the coast of Western Australia while the government deliberated on whether to unload the animals or send them back to Israel. Animal welfare organizations strongly opposed the decision to send them back.
On Monday, the Australian government rejected a request from the exporter to offload some animals and reroute the rest to Israel via Africa to bypass the Red Sea. This trip would take approximately 33 days.
“This desperate plan would have subjected the animals to a grueling and extended journey of more than 65 days – that is, 33+ more days on top of the 32 they’ve already been confined to the vessel,” stated the animal welfare organization RSPCA. “This would have made it one of the longest live export journeys in living memory.”
The RSPCA also expressed severe concern over future proposals to re-export the animals, stating, “They have suffered enough.”
However, Geoff Pearson, head of livestock at the farm group WAFarmers, informed news agency Reuters that the animals would be transferred to a new ship and sent to Israel in a few weeks for fattening or kosher slaughter.
Kosher slaughter, or “shechita,” is a Jewish religious and ritual method where the animal’s throat is cut while conscious.
Animals to remain on ship till Saturday
The ship Bahijah is waiting as another livestock vessel is being loaded at Perth’s Fremantle port. Pearson mentioned that the animals would be offloaded by Saturday at the earliest. Until then, the animals are confined on the ship in high temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius.
Following their offloading, the animals will undergo quarantine in compliance with Australia’s biosecurity laws. “Re-export is the preferred option,” stated Pearson.
Pearson also noted that the government denied permission for the journey to Israel because Israeli animal rights organizations Let the Animals Live and Animals Now had initiated court proceedings to prevent an import permit for the animals aboard the Bahijah.
Live animal export Australia
In another development, the live animal export ship Jawan departed from Australia for the Jordanian port of Aqaba on Thursday, carrying approximately 60,000 animals, most of them sheep.
Australia is a leading exporter of live animals, with its live export industry shipping over a million animals overseas last year.
Support The Animal Reader – Daily Animal News
The Animal Reader is your go-to source for daily updates on animal news. We’re committed to keeping our content freely accessible to all.
If you like what we’re doing and can support us, it would help us grow our independent animal news platform.